I made these carrots on a Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago, to have on hand for meals throughout the week. I do this a lot (i.e., cook tons of stuff on Sunday for the week), mostly because I’m a fanatic about packing healthy lunches for myself—I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that the only time I go out for lunch during the week is if it’s for a business meeting. I much prefer squeezing a workout into my lunch hour instead and then having something healthy at my desk once I’m back. Refreshing exercise + wholesome food > greasy takeout + food coma.
So back to these carrots. I had picked up a huge bunch because they were on sale (and organic, so a total steal) and decided to braise them instead of roasting because my oven was already full. Braising may sound fancy, but it’s really not. It’s basically just browning the food, then cooking it in a little liquid until done. You can do it with meat, vegetables, whatever.
In this case, the end result is deeply flavored, naturally sweet, and perfectly cooked carrots that taste just as good as they look. I hope you give them a try—whether it’s Sunday afternoon or any other day of the week.
Simple Braised Carrots
If you own a cast iron pan, I really recommend using it here (and if you don’t have one, grab one the next time you’re at a garage sale or thrift store—they’re one of the best things you could find there). They’re also a much healthier option than non-stick cookware.
5 to 6 large carrots, washed (no need to peel, especially if using organic)
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or whatever herb you like (oregano, coriander, etc.)
One spoonful honey
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken broth, or water
Slice your carrots in half and put the smaller ends aside. Slice the larger (stem) ends in half lengthwise.
Add the oil to your cast-iron pan or a large saucepan and heat until very hot but not smoking. Place the carrots in the pan, arranging those you sliced in half flat side down. You want as much of the carrot’s surface to touch the hot pan as you can, so you get a nice sear (searing = flavor).
Let the carrots sizzle and brown for at least 5 minutes, checking periodically and turning as needed. (The good thing about using cast iron is that when the food is properly seared, it releases naturally from the pan, so don’t move the carrots unless they’re ready to go.) Flip to brown both sides.
Once browned, sprinkle the carrots generously with salt and pepper and whatever herb you’re using. Drizzle the honey over the top of the carrots. Slowly add your liquid (I really prefer homemade chicken broth here, but it’s totally up to you); It will sizzle and deglaze the pan a bit. The liquid should come just about halfway up the sides of the carrots. Turn the heat down to a simmer and partially cover.
Cook the carrots for 20 to 25 minutes, turning as needed and adding a bit more liquid if it becomes too dry (though it’s okay if most of it evaporates). Test for doneness with the tip of a knife—it should pass through the thickest part of the carrot without much resistance when done.
Serve warm, with a little balsamic vinegar on top if you like. Pack leftovers for healthy lunches!