Pike Place Market Sunday Chef Cooking Demonstration July 25, 2010
I love carrots. I like the flavor and the color and the endless ways to prepare it.I like them raw, roasted marinated, baked, fried and pureed. Their tastes can range far and wide depending on the variety and how they are prepared.
In my early days as the chef at Campagne and Café Campagne my love of carrots went a bit too far. I had prepared a summer menu to be evaluated by the owner. He said: “what’s up with all the carrots?” Apparently it was a menu fit for Bugs Bunny.
I had a particular recipe where I diced them really really small and blanched them in salted water and then marinated them in truffle oil. I called the preparation vegetable caviar. I think I tried to put it on every fish special I made for a while. But that’s how it is when you get obsessed with things. You do not realize that the rest of the world doesn’t love it as much as you do.
My goal now is to get you to share my obsession with carrots and give it the rightful place in you cooking repertoire. In the summer when they are in abundance, I think it is good to have some options. These are three ways that we prepare it a Campagne and café Campagne.
1 # organic carrots
12 each garlic cloves, fresh
3 lemons, juiced
1 T Dijon mustard
Fresh ground black pepper
Wash, then peel bunched organic carrots. Make thin slices by using a Japanese mandolin. In blender, combine 12 medium fresh garlic cloves and the juice of three lemons, 1 Tablespoon of Dijon mustard, puree until smooth, and then add olive oil in steady stream until thick and creamy. Pour vinaigrette over carrot slices and marinate at least 1 day. Adjust seasoning with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. These need a minimum of one day to taste good. The day of marinating will allow the carrots to release some of their juice and mix with the marinade and then you will get this pale creamy carrot colored vinaigrette that is really delicious.
Now the magic of this dish is in two places. First: the carrots. Then it is in the garlic cloves. When the garlic is relatively fresh in the growing season, it has a softer slightly moister consistency, since it hasn’t been left to dry as most of the garlic you find in the store (which are perfectly good, by the way). Most of the time when we make creamy vinaigrettes in restaurants, we use an egg or at least and egg yolk as an emulsifier (this stabilizes the vinaigrette and keeps the oil from separating). The fresh garlic is a great emulsifier, so along with a little mustard you are able to make a purely vegetarian vinaigrette which has great creamy consistency.
Currently at Café Campagne, we use this salad on salad Nicoise plate along with lots of traditional things like egg, tomato, tuna, potatoes and marinated vegetables. We also use it on a tartine which is made with this fantastic bread from Grand Central bakery.
I must give credit to one of my culinary heroes, Joel Robuchon ( http://twitpic.com/28nen7 )as I was inspired by a preparation years ago in his first book Simply French.
I pound organic carrots, peeled and sliced thinly, discs or sticks, your choice.
Water to cover
2 Table spoons butter, unsalted
1 teaspoon sugar
1 pinch sea salt
Fresh herbs: parsley, basil or mint
A shallow stainless steel sauté pan (straight and short sides)
The heart of the glazed carrots is the French technique of glazing vegetables. This is one of those things you learn very early on at culinary school or in French kitchens and I think it remains very useful. It is a technique that can be used with other root vegetables: celery root, parsnips, rutabagas, turnips, even beets, though I think it is best with carrots. At the heart of things is keeping the flavor by keeping the juice. Typically when carrots need to be cooked, they get boiled. Boiling gets the carrots to a point where they are easier to eat and digest-meaning softer. The problem is, when you dump the water, you dump most of the flavor and vibrancy that was in the carrots. Glazing helps you keep that juice and that is where the flavor is.
Here is the procedure:
Place prepared carrots in sauté pan. Add enough water just to cover the carrots; and a pinch of salt, little sugar and a couple tablespoons of butter. Bring the water up to boil, then, turn it down to a simmer. At this point, allow the carrots to cook gently until they just get tender. If the water goes down below the level of the carrots, before they are finished cooking, add more water. When the carrots are ready, remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon and hold them on a plate. Turn up heat and return the liquid to a boil. Continue to boil until the liquid reduces and begins to get a little thick and glossy and there is just enough to coat the carrots. At this point return the carrots to the pan and gently coat in the glaze. If more time is needed to heat the carrots, add a little water and heat until hot and glazed. The combination of sugar, butter and the carrots juices create the glaze. Finally finish the dish with your favorite soft herbs, parsley, basil, mint, tarragon, even chervil.
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