As a child, just like children everywhere, I was a picky eater and I hated vegetables. With the exception of corn and green beans, I refused to eat them. There were many nights when I sat at the kitchen table, long after the rest of the family had finished their meals, while my parents waited patiently for me to give in and finally eat everything on my plate. Unfortunately for my parents I was very stubborn.
There is nothing remarkable about this except that when I was a teenager I developed a condition where I wasn’t allowed to eat any raw vegetables and of course I immediately craved them! I grew up, I stopped being picky and learned to love cooking and eating most foods, including vegetables.
One of my favorite side dishes of all time is sweetened carrots with dill. They provide a wonderful counterpart to savory dishes and I don’t know any child that doesn’t love them. Had my parents prepared carrots this way when I was young, the number of nights with me sitting at the table alone after dinner would have been dramatically reduced LOL!
Fresh herbs are full of natural oils that help transmit the flavors to your palate. Rub herbs between your fingers and smell the oils. It’s better than aromatherapy for me! If you are unaccustomed to using fresh herbs and feel a bit intimidated by them, I urge you to take a leap of faith and have some fun. Go to the produce department of a good grocery store (I love Whole Foods!), and buy several different types of fresh herbs. If you don’t know what they are named, ask someone in the department and be sure to make a note. Go to your cookbooks and look for recipes that use the herbs and try them out. You may be surprised at how many you like and what a huge difference they make in your favorite meals.
Dill may seem like an unusual herb to use here, but it perfectly complements the carrots. You will recognize the flavor from many seafood dishes. Dill is one of the few herbs where you can use dry and not compromise the flavor completely. Fresh is infinitely better, but if all you have is dried, go ahead and use it.
Thanksgiving at our house just wouldn’t be the same without these carrots. Who knows, maybe they’ll become a tradition at your home too!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
Carrots are inherently sweet and cooking brings out the natural sugars. Caramelizing means to cook until those natural sugars have turned into a caramel coating. If you are sensitive to sweets or are trying to reduce your intake of sugar, you can eliminate the honey from this recipe. If you do, reduce the sour cream to 1 tablespoon.
Kitchen Skill: Julienne
Why: The purpose of cutting vegetables julienne is to ensure that all pieces cook evenly and quickly as well as for aesthetics. Cutting vegetables into julienne means to create matchstick-sized pieces.
How: If you are working with rounded vegetables like potatoes or carrots, cut thin slices off the sides until you have flat edges all around. Slice long vegetables into pieces about 3-inches long. Slice each piece lengthwise into thin slices. Stack slices and cut lengthwise again into matchstick-size pieces.
- 2 lb carrots, peeled
- 3 tbsp butter
- 2 tsp fresh dill, or 1 tsp dried
- Pinch salt
- 1/2 c chicken stock
- 1 tsp honey, maple syrup, or brown sugar
- 2 tbsp sour cream
- If you are using baby carrots, trim stems and leave whole. If you are using full-size carrots, cut into julienne sticks. To do this, cut off the tops, cut carrots into about 3-inch long pieces. Slice thin pieces off sides until you have squared-off sides, and slice lengthwise into thin pieces. Stack these pieces on top of each other, set with flat side down on cutting board, and cut lengthwise into matchstick pieces.
- Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add carrot matchsticks and stir well to coat. Sauté, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add dill, salt, stock, and honey. Cover and cook just until carrots are barely tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Length of cooking will vary depending on size of pieces. Remove carrots with slotted spoon to serving dish; keep warm.
- Note: The recipe may be made ahead to this point and held in the refrigerator for an hour to two (carrots in one container, pan sauce in another). Return to room temperature before continuing.
- Over medium-high heat, reduce liquid in skillet until syrupy, about 3 minutes. Whisk in sour cream until smooth. Return carrots to pan. Stir until warmed and well coated. Serve immediately.
- Yield: about 4 servings