I don't cook carrots often enough and I have no idea why. They're colorful, crunchy and delicious without requiring much embellishment to highlight their awesomeness. I often unfairly regulate them to the standard raw salad or happily enjoy them in carrot coconut soup, but I'm always pleased with the result of a simple, light cooking.
Glazing a root vegetable like carrots - or parsnips or rutabaga - is accomplished through braising. That is, cooking on top of the stove in a small amount of liquid that is reduced down to a light coating, aka glaze, but the time the vegetable is tender.
Peel and slice your carrots. Or skip the peeling if you want and just give them a good wash, especially if they're local. Then slice. I go with about a 1/4 inch slice, not too thin or thick. That way they will be perfectly tender yet still crisp. Slice them too thick and they won't cook up enough in this quick braise.
I find that a wider pan works better than a small pot for quickly reducing the liquid and creating a nice glaze.
Any liquid works for a braise and orange juice pairs perfectly with carrots. Maybe it's the orange color? Try wine, broth, beer, cider or fruit juice, depending on the ingredient you're braising. You don't need much, though. We're not boiling the carrots here, so only a few will be submerged.
I threw some raisins in the pan, another nice complement to carrots, but you don't have to.
Bring the liquid to a boil, cover and reduce the heat so that a steady, rapid simmer continues in the pan. It will take about 15 minutes, give or take, for the liquid to reduce and carrots to approach tenderness. At this point, you want to remove the cover and add in some maple syrup. Everything is better with maple. But there's no need to get carried away with it, as carrots have a bit of sweetness on their own.
From there, it's just another couple of minutes before the carrots are ready for dinner. Or snacking, because, like me, you just might want to eat them right out of the pan and that's okay too.
Today, we were happy to share this dish with voters in Pittsford and Chittenden. We think they we're pretty happy too.