John D Lee is a chef and restauranteur living and working in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He's always loved to cook.
Growing up, I always wondered why the vegetables served at good restaurants always tasted better than the ones I boiled or steamed at home—how they could boil vegetables so much better than I could?!
Well, eventually, I figured out that it wasn’t the way they prepared the vegetables that made the difference; it was the way they finished them off by adding a quick vegetable glaze—a glaze sauce that truly makes a world of difference, especially when used on root vegetables like carrots.
Glazed vegetables are lustrous and appetizing, and each cut piece of vegetable is perfectly seasoned with a flavorful half-absorbed buttery sauce—lovely stuff. Since it only takes about 1 minute to glaze up a batch of carrots or other root vegetables, there no reason why you shouldn’t glaze them every time.
How to Glaze Carrots
This process works equally well for other root vegetables.
- carrots, cut into pieces
- about 1 tablespoon butter
- salt to taste
- Boil your carrots (or other cut vegetables) in well-salted water until you have just barely reached the desired tenderness.
- Drain off all but 2 or 3 tablespoons of liquid from the pot.
- Add in 1 tablespoon or so of butter (more if you’re feeling decadent) and return the pot to the heat.
- Cook the vegetables, stirring, until the water and butter have combined to form a sauce. Continue cooking until that sauce is almost completely absorbed into the carrots.
- Salt, taste, and salt again.
It doesn’t sound like much, but taking the time to do this one extra step will transform an everyday side dish to something that will steal the limelight on any plate.
More Carrot Glaze Ideas
When you get used to making this very simple glaze, you can move on to more advanced combinations! A glaze is composed of a liquid and a fat that are simmered together to coat a vegetable. The simplest form of glaze is simply one like that described above, which uses butter and water, but you can bring more flavors to the party if desired.
- For carrots, a little sweetness works magic, and so to the above recipe, try sprinkling in a little brown sugar, maple syrup or honey
- Instead of just water for the liquid, try combining other flavorful variations, like vegetable or chicken stock, rum or bourbon, white wine or any number of juices (mmm . . . apple-juice-glazed butter carrots).
- You can also add in flavorings through the addition of herbs and spices. Flavors that go well with carrots include garlic, cumin, ginger, mint, rosemary, tarragon, thyme, or most any of the ‘sweet’ spices, such as cinnamon, cloves, allspice, coriander seed, etc.
- Remember that you can always add in more spice, so take it easy when adding flavorings to a glaze—you just want an accent, not an overpowering flavor!
Once you get the hang of making a glaze, you can mix and match between different liquids, fats, sugars and flavorings to create an infinite number of dinnertime variations.
Boiled carrots will never be boring again!
aarush on November 21, 2011:
RussellLHuey on July 12, 2011:
I love it.
Beatrice Jordan from North Yorkshire, United Kingdom on March 08, 2011:
I will certainly try this at the weekend it sounds yummy. My mother always added a little sugar to the water with the salt. She said it improved the flavour and colour. For many years I have added a good dollop of thick cut marmalade to the water - this leaves lovely pieces of orange peel and a tangy flavour with the carrots when drained.
craftybegonia from Southwestern, United States on March 05, 2011:
Alan Murray from Ipswich, United Kingdom on December 24, 2010:
This is a brilliant article. Very useful. Thank you very much.
veggiehater on January 20, 2010:
Thanks for the idea! It's so simple but I never would have thought of adding fat to cooking water. I've just started a hub on my adventures trying to find ways of cooking veg for people who don't like veg (ie me) so I'll have to have a go playing around with this.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 29, 2009:
Yum! I also like carmelizing some onions and cooking them with carrots. So many things one can do with this versatile vegetable.