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How to Glaze Carrots and Other Vegetables for Side Dishes

John D Lee is a chef and restauranteur living and working in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He's always loved to cook.

Glazed carrots.

Glazed carrots.

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.

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Ingredients

  • carrots, cut into pieces
  • about 1 tablespoon butter
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Boil your carrots (or other cut vegetables) in well-salted water until you have just barely reached the desired tenderness.
  2. Drain off all but 2 or 3 tablespoons of liquid from the pot.
  3. Add in 1 tablespoon or so of butter (more if you’re feeling decadent) and return the pot to the heat.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!

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