Carrots: The Root of All Flavor

The Food Dude shares ideas, information and a recipe using the all-purpose carrot.
by Dave Cathey Published: September 19, 2012
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What you might not know is the carrot's birth is believed to have occurred in the Middle East — namely Afghanistan and Iran. Initially, carrots were grown for their aromatic leaves and seeds, not their roots. Relatives parsley, fennel, dill and cumin are still used as such.

Another thing you might not know is carrots come in a variety of color. Rainbow carrots have become more common in Oklahoma City, found at Whole Foods Market and some Homeland stores. In rainbow bundles you'll find carrots in purple, yellow and orange. In northern India, carrots red as raspberries grow. Some evidence indicates the first carrots came in red and yellow only to find each other irresistible and they bred orange carrots into existence.

In modern application, carrots don't stand alone too often unless you're buying baby carrots to dip in Ranch dressing, glazing for Thanksgiving as pitch-perfect seasonal side dish or shredding with raisins into a salad that you really should just buy from Boulevard Cafeteria because I promise you'll have a hard time beating the one they make.

The aforementioned natural sweetness of carrots long ago made them popular in desserts. If you find a better carrot cake than the one made by La Baguette Bakery let me know. Despite those endorsements, I've included some recipes for each today.

Carrots also are used in preserves, and the juice is widely marketed as a health drink.

Gardeners will tell you carrots make a wonderful companion plant. Some say dropping a few carrots among your tomato plants helps production. Flowering carrot tops attract wasps that might scare you away, but while you're gone make a meal out of garden pests.

When preparing for Julia Child's 100th Birthday dinner at The Coach House, chefs John Bennett and Robert Dickson threw an impromptu dinner I was lucky enough to be a part of, meaning I got bossed around a lot (amazing what menial tasks I'll perform for an expertly made meal).

As the menu was coming together, Dickson volunteered to make Carottes a la Concierge, which Child included in “Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1.”

Check out his rendition of the French classic first introduced by his lifelong friend Julia Child.


by Dave Cathey
Food Editor
The Oklahoman's food editor, Dave Cathey, keeps his eye on culinary arts and serves up news and reviews from Oklahoma’s booming food scene.
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Carottes a la Concierge

In his variation, chef John Bennett cooks the carrots and sauce separately and has reduced the cook time without reducing a single calorie from this gazillion-calorie classic.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

1½ pounds carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks

3 shallots sliced thin

3 to 4 cloves garlic sliced thin

4 tablespoons butter or olive oil, divided

3 tablespoons flour

1 cup chicken stock or broth

¼ cup milk

2 tablespoons cream

½ teaspoon dry thyme or 1 teaspoon fresh thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

2 tablespoons minced parsley

2 tablespoons minced chives

• Blanch the carrots in salted water with bay leaf, no more than two minutes. Drain and cook.

• Cook the onions and shallots in 1 tablespoon butter in a 2 ½-quart saucepan, tossing occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Add the carrots and simmer at medium to medium low heat while you make the sauce. The vegetables should be tender but not browned. So, don't be afraid to turn the temperature to low.

• In a second saucepan, melt the remaining butter/oil. Whisk in the flour, and cook 3 minutes.

• Whisk the stock into the flour, then the milk, and finally the seasonings. Simmer, uncovered for until the liquid has thickened, correct seasoning and add cream.

• Turn hot vegetable onto a platter and coat with sauce, top with parsley and chives, reserve remaining sauce in a bowl and add to the platter.

Chef's Note: Chef Bennett suggests a tablespoon of fresh-grated ginger would make an interesting addition.

Source: Chef John Bennett, adapted from “Mastering the

Art of French Cooking, Volume 1” by Julia Child,

Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck (Knopf)

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