Monday, February 10, 2014

One Great . . . beer-braised carrots

After weeks of kitchen renovation, travel and weather disruptions, I'm back in the farmers market habit. The South's winter of cold discontent has wiped out some crops that usually survive this time of year, but there's still enough growing that I can fill one big canvas bag.

Despite the difficulties, our local farmers have managed to keep coaxing carrots from the ground. I'm spotting them everywhere at the market, ranging from tiny ones piled on tables to big ones tied in bundles with string. I was getting a little bored with the usual glazed carrots when I came across this recipe, from chef Alex Guarnaschelli's new book, "Old School Comfort Food: The Way I Learned to Cook."

The combination of beer, caraway and brown sugar is perfect, giving the carrots a taste similar to rye bread. It's perfect for a winter evening, with a winter crop.

Beer-Braised Carrots

The slicing instructions result in very thick pieces, so they don't overcook in the time it takes for the beer to cook away. Guarnaschelli uses Heineken, but I used Harp and it worked treat.

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
12 medium to small carrots (about 1 1/4 pounds), peeled, stems removed and halved lengthwise
Kosher salt
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 (12-ounce) bottle lager

HEAT a skillet large enough to hold the carrot halves in a single layer over medium-high heat and add the butter. When the butter melts and starts to brown, add the coriander and caraway seeds and toss to coat with the butter. Toast for a minute until they become fragrant. Add the carrot halves and toss to coat with the butter.

SEASON with salt and add the brown sugar. Cook carrots for a minute or two over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the beer and continue cooking about 25 minutes, until carrots are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife and the sauce is cooked down to form a glaze. (If it cooks away completely before the carrots are done, add a splash of water if needed.) Taste for seasoning and serve.

YIELD:  4 to 6 servings.