Friday, April 2, 2010

A Simple Side - Carrots with Tarragon

A magic pairing - tarragon and carrots

Tarragon is an herb that's pretty unfamiliar to me. I grew up eating my grandmother's Hungarian food, and in her desire to blend into American culture, a lot of simple American food - chicken breasts with rosemary and lemon, mashed potatoes, that sort of thing. Living in Southern California, then moving up to the Seattle area, I've been exposed to a lot of Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, and Chinese food. Cumin, coriander, garam masala, galangal, lemongrass, szechuan peppercorns are pantry staples. I buy fresh cilantro on a weekly basis. But in my kitchen and food vocabulary, tarragon is exotic - not something I grew up with, or ate with any kind of regularity. As you can probably imagine, I haven't eaten or cooked a lot of French food (something I am working on at the moment).

So while this recipe is really simple, these carrots were a revelation for me. I can't even begin to describe how well the tarragon compliments the carrots, other than they seemed made for each other - and of course, a little butter and salt always helps. But what an elegant side to a simple meal - this would go so well with an herb roasted chicken. As pictured, I made it with braised chicken with leeks and porcini, and green herb mashed potatoes, also from The Herbfarm Cookbook. It was a truly lovely meal, but the carrots were my favorite.

Carrots with Tarragon - adapted from The Herbfarm Cookbook by Jerry Traunfeld
1 lb peeled, trimmed carrots (young with tops if available)
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 TB unsalted butter
2 TB coarsely chopped fresh tarragon
If the carrots are very small, cut them in 1/2 lengthwise, otherwise cut them on the bias into coins or half-moons. Put them in a large high-sided pan with a lid in a single layer, and add in the stock, sugar, salt, and butter. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 5 or 6 minutes, or until easily pierced with the tip of a knife but still firm. Remove lid and continue to simmer until the liquid evaporates and the carrots are coated with a glaze. Add the tarragon, toss, and serve.

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