I had never heard of cooking carrots (or anything else) with this method until I picked up this month's issue of Cook's Illustrated. These slow-cooked carrots come out firm with a perfectly tender consistency and an intensely sweet flavor like nothing I have tasted from a carrot that hasn't had some sort of sugar added during the cooking process.
Choose carrots that are similar in size so they cook at the same rate. I shortened these slightly so they would fit in my 10" skillet. I found some beautiful carrots at the farmer's market in multiple colors. The maroon carrots will lose a lot of their color and will discolor the cooking liquid, but that's ok with me.
The parchment lid (also called a Cartouche) helps the carrots to cook evenly by letting the steam evaporate from the center. One of the challenges of cooking carrots is that the small end will be overcooked, while the big end isn't done yet. The Cartouche solves this problem and helps the carrots cook perfectly even.
The Cartouche is a little tricky to figure out for the first time, but it's totally worth it.
Bring the water, butter, thyme and salt to a simmer over high heat; then remove from heat and add the carrots.
Cover the carrots with the Cartouche and place a lid (or sheet pan) over the skillet and let stand for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the lid (keeping the Cartouche in place) and bring to a simmer for about 45 minutes, until almost all the liquid has evaporated.
This is when the parchment lid is removed and it still needs to cook on high for a few more minutes to form a glaze with the remaining liquid.
- 1 ¼ cups water
- ½ tablespoon butter
- pinch of salt
- 6 carrots peeled
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 1 10" piece of parchment paper
For the Parchment Lid (Cartouche):
- Fold a 10" square piece of parchment paper in half, then into quarters.
- With the openings at the top and right sides, fold the bottom right corner to the top left corner.
- Make another smaller narrow triangle by folding the right side over the left.
- Cut off ¼ inch at the bottom (narrow portion) to create a hole. Cut the top off at around 4 inches from the hole (for a 10" skillet).
For the Carrots
- Bring the water, butter, thyme and salt to a simmer in a 10-inch skillet over high heat. Remove from heat and place the carrots in the pan in a single layer, alternating ends for a better fit. Place the parchment paper over the carrots, then cover the pan with a lid or a sheet pan and let stand for 20 minutes .
- Remove lid from the skillet (leaving parchment in place) and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until there is almost no liquid remaining, which should take about 45 minutes. Remove and discard the parchment lid and continue to cook on high heat until a glaze forms from the remaining liquid, just a few minutes longer.
- Season to taste and garnish with fresh herbs.