Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Carrots Vichy, A Tasty Complement to Any Main Course

Carrots, for example, are a great winter (or any time of the year) vegetable. They're very versatile and well-loved. I haven't heard too many people tell me they 'just can't stand carrots'. Kids included. But it's all in the way you serve them that gets them into family tummies.

Give someone a whole carrot to eat and they'll most likely pass. The question is why? For me, the answer is easy, it's all in the presentation.

Set out a bowl of baby carrots and people will come a-munching. Sliced carrot sticks in the veggie dip selection are some of the first veggies to be dipped. Cut them small and thin enough and carrot sticks will find their way into the hands of little fingers.

While raw carrots get full coverage on the dip scene, don't forget to cook them up as the main 'side' vegetable. Steamed carrots are a wonderful comfort food in winter. It's quick and easy to prepare: simply peel carrots, cut into thin disks or cube 'em and steam them for 10 minutes in a vegetable steamer.

Give them a little twist français by serving them with freshly chopped tarragon and a drizzle of olive oil or add a pat of butter for plain old-fashioned comfort.

Here's a little trick I learned here in France. Steamed and mashed, carrots make an excellent purée for all ages, especially for those who are still teething. But you commonly find carrot purée as the side to any meat dish around here 9 months out of the year. Try it with grilled chicken, pork chops, steak or fish steaks.

Again, drizzle of olive oil, pinch of salt, freshly ground pepper, a nice dollop of crème fraîche or half & half and steam water for creamy orange mash that can compete with any mashed potato.

Now my favorite way to enjoy carrots during the long rainy and gray winters in France is carottes vichy. This is simply cooking sliced carrots in a skillet until their juices caramelize making them sweet and tender. Very cozy on a blustery or wet evening.

The 'vichy' parts of this recipes comes from the fizzy water produced in Vichy, France. Known for its medicinal purposes and sodium rich water, it's tradition to use Vichy water when preparing this recipe.

Of course, that isn't really necessary and regular eau du faucet will suffice without compromising flavors.

Carrots Vichy

1 lb. carrots
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 cups water, up to
1 teaspoon sugar
freshly chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Peel and rinse carrots; Slice into ½ in rounds; Place in skillet with lid; Add butter or margarine, sugar and enough water to cover carrots; replace lid and simmer on medium-low for 30-45 min. or until water is almost completely evaporated.

Transfer to serving dish; sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley, salt and pepper to taste.

Note, if using old carrots, blanche them before cooking them in the skillet to remove any bitter taste. Simply drop the carrot rounds into boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Drain and proceed with skillet preparations.

Anne Dessens is the editor/founder of Anne the success website through personal development

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