Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Honeyed Carrots with Cinnamon

Plate of Honeyed Carrots
Simply Delicious Carrots

Recipe adapted from The Chinese Herbal Cookbook

It’s hard to imagine a more utilitarian vegetable than carrots. They grow in the ground with little fuss, surviving freezes and winters with no problem. They can be harvested any time of year, eaten raw or cooked, and they keep well in the fridge or root cellar. They’re packed with vitamin A and minerals. Almost everyone likes them, though we tend to take them for granted. Let’s face it, they are just not very exciting.

Honey on the other hand is kind of sexy. Made from nectar by an industrious insect, it’s unique in flavor, texture, and sweetness. It’s been glorified throughout history since ancient times, and is used in many ways besides cooking. In these ways, honey is the complete opposite of carrots.

Honey, Carrots, Tarragon Vinegar, Cinnamon
Main Recipe Ingredients
What makes this recipe so enticing is this play of opposites. The honey elevates the natural sweetness of the earthy carrots. Tarragon vinegar adds a barely noticeable hint of sourness and herby essence. The cinnamon, which seems like it wouldn’t blend at all with tarragon, adds a sweet spiciness—but don’t overdo it.

According to The Chinese Herbal Cookbook, one of my favorite cookbooks, which is the source of this recipe, carrots are especially good for the spleen. The spleen stores blood components (red cells, white cells, and platelets) so that our bodies can react quickly to injury. Herbalist/author Penelope Ody says that carrots are also ideal for curing digestive difficulties. Cinnamon supports the spleen as well as the kidneys. Honey lubricates the skin and organs, making it a perfect food for dry, windy spring days. So this recipe builds the body in addition to tasting sweet and substantial.

For a slightly different variation, try Rou Gui bark (Chinese cinnamon) in this recipe. You will probably need to grind it yourself in a spice or coffee grinder. It’s good on cinnamon toast, too. This recipe may be cut in half, if you use a full 1 tbsp. butter to avoid burning. I like to use the largest carrots I can find, and slice them diagonally into meaty chunks.

Honeyed Carrots in Saute Pan
Carrots Ready to Serve
Honeyed Carrots
serves about 6

2 lbs. carrots
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. butter
½ cup water
a few grinds of sea salt
2 tbsp. tarragon vinegar
4 tbsp. clear honey
1/8 tsp. cinnamon, or to taste

Slice carrots diagonally about ¼ inch thick. Heat butter in electric frying pan at 400 degrees F (medium high heat). Saute carrots for 3 minutes, stirring frequently to coat all carrots with butter.

Add water and salt, cover pan, and bring to boil. Simmer at about 325 degrees F for 10 minutes, stirring periodically. Carrots should be soft. If carrots boil dry, add 2 tbsp. water.  Liquid but not liquid.

Combine honey and vinegar in cup. Stir into carrots, coating them thoroughly. Saute another 2 – 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Sprinkle with a few pinches of rou gui or other cinnamon, to taste. Serve immediately.

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