Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Two Delicious Sides: Caramelized Spiced Carrots with Honey and Orange, and Silky Parsnip Purée

My sister's birthday was this past weekend. Along with making her favorite chocolate peanut butter cup cupcakes, I dished out some of Thomas Keller's brined pork tenderloin (recipe coming soon) with a couple of seasonal sides (all sourced from local farms). Both sides came from a fabulous cookbook I had the pleasure of reviewing last fall: Roots.

First off, I had a couple pounds of rainbow carrots from my local CSA. I definitely wanted to showcase their beautiful colors and thought that roasting them would further enhance them. Rather than simply roast them with olive oil and seasonings, as I normally would, I decided to try Diane Morgan's version of roasted carrots which combine them with orange juice, orange zest, spices and some honey. The result had a great balance of spice and sweetness, while still boasting the carrots themselves.

Essentially, the carrots are steamed in the orange juice mixture and then later tossed with honey and finished uncovered to allow the orange juice/honey mixture to thicken and cling to the beautiful carrot slices. I thought this was a marvelous preparation and would definitely make this again as a great all-around side dish. I also like that it can be served at room temperature, which would make it work well for a picnic or potluck as well.

I was also graced with a couple pounds of fresh parsnips from my local CSA. Rather than roast these as well (which could have been a possibility), I decided doing a purée would offer a nice change in textures on the plate. This purée is so simple, that it barely requires a recipe. But having a foolproof one doesn't hurt.

The result is a smooth and velvety purée with a sharp parsnip flavor that balances the sweetness on the plate from the carrots. Together they were excellent compliments to my pork tenderloin.

Caramelized Spiced Carrots with Honey and Orange
Serves 4 to 6
(Adapted from Roots)

1 pounds carrots, trimmed, peeled, and cut on a severe diagonal into 1/2-inch thick slices
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
1 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground Aleppo chile
3 tablespoons honey

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.

Line a large roasting pan with aluminum foil. Place the carrots in the pan and toss with the orange juice, oil, orange zest, salt, spices, and chile. Cover tightly with another sheet of aluminum foil and roast, stirring once or twice, until the carrots are crisp-tender when pierced with a fork, about 30 minutes.

Add the honey and toss to coat. Increase the oven to 450 degrees F and continue roasting, uncovered, until the carrots are tender and dark brown around the edges, about 25 minutes. Serve immediately, or let cool and serve warm, barely warm, or at room temperature.

Silky Parsnip Purée
Makes 3 cups; serves 4 to 6 as a side dish
(From Roots)

2 pounds parsnips, trimmed, peeled, and diced
1 1/2 cups milk
1 garlic clove, minced
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher or fine sea salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

In a medium saucepan, combine the parsnips, milk, garlic, and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, cover partially and cook until the parsnips are very tender when pierced with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes. Keep the milk at a slow simmer so it doesn't curdle.

Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Transfer the contents of the pan to a food process and process until a silky, smooth purée forms. Add the butter and process until incorporated. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Serve immediately or keep warm until ready to serve. The parsnip purée can be made up to 3 days in advance, cooled, covered, and refrigerated. Reheat in a double boiler or microwave oven.


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