Roast carrot chaat. Photo credit: Allison Manella, Lantern
Nobody can forget the bad cooked carrots of her youth. Slimy, mushy and unearthly orange, their appearance on a dinner table could make a gal want to slide under the kitchen table and duck out the back door.
But suddenly, cooked carrots are ubiquitous, and they’re being prepared fantastically well. Momofuku chef David Chang likes to cook them in their own juices along with butter, salt, and kombu (an edible seaweed that lends an umami boom.) This super-simple recipe ran in the most recent issue of Lucky Peach magazine, and we managed to persuade Chang & Co. to let us share it below.
Then there was critic Pete Wells, who wrote in The New York Times about four people fighting over carrots at new Manhattan restaurant Piora. (It helped that they’d been “roasted in ham fat until they collapsed into their own sweetness” and topped with what a waiter called “ham snow.”)
Finally, at this fall’s Eater Awards, which recognized excellent cooking from around America, the best darn thing we tried was not the peanut-fed ham paired with peanut macarons, nor the homemade charcuterie. It was a roast carrot chaat—a riff on an Indian street snack—sprinkled with roast cauliflower, basil, crisp black lentils, and mint, made by Andrea Reusing of Chapel Hill, North Carolina eatery Lantern. Sweet and savory at once, with a cracking mix of textures, it was among the best carrot dishes we’ve ever had.
We’re calling it a trend. Kale, watch your back.
Carrot in Carrot Juice
by David Chang, Lucky Peach
Juice fresh for this dish or buy juice fresh from some kinda health food place where all the models go. If you don’t have a place like that near your house yet, wait between six months and fifteen years. New York is so lousy with juice bars I’m sure we’ll start exporting them everywhere soon.
Serves 2-3 as an appetizer
1 cup fresh carrot juice
1 sheet kombu
1-2 Tbsp. butter
3-4 carrots, scrubbed
Salt, to taste
Heat the carrot juice and kombu together over your stove’s lowest heat. If you’ve got 20 to 40 minutes to let the seaweed steep in the juice, excellent. Less time is also okay.
Melt the butter in a wide, shallow pan over medium heat. Once the butter foam subsides, add the carrots and a large pinch of salt. Toss once to coat the carrots in the butter and add the carrot juice, discarding the kombu. Cover the pan and cook, shaking it or opening the lid to stir the carrots occasionally. Gauge the doneness of the carrots after 6 or 7 minutes, and cook them to your taste—al dente or left-my-dentures-on-the-nightstand soft. Serve as is.