17 January, 2009

The Humongous Carrot

I have four "absolute staple" vegetables in my kitchen: garlic, onions, celery, and carrots. Those are the Big Four, the items I always have on hand. They're pretty much the same ones that my mom always had, as well, so I guess I know where one of my big culinary influences lies.

When I was a kid, my mom would always buy the slender carrots that come packaged in a plastic bag - the three-pound size. She would never buy bulk carrots, and she would never ever buy big carrots. She said they were "woody" and tasted bitter. Since I was a kid, I never questioned her judgement.

One day, though, I took a chance at my local produce store and bought a couple of really massive carrots because they were really, really cheap and I wanted some big carrots that would cook at about the same rate as some potatoes I was putting in a stew. See, that's the problem with slender little carrots - you put them in a stew or a pot roast with the potatoes, but they're smaller in diameter than the spuds, and they cook to disgusting mush long before the spuds are done.

Anyway, I bought these huge carrots and took them home and decided to try one to see just how woody and bitter they were. I peeled one, and cut a piece off the thickest and toughest-looking part, and tried it out.

My mom was wrong. This carrot was as sweet as could be, with a strong carrot flavor, and as tender as you could imagine a raw orange root could be. Delicious. Cut into potato-sized chunks, it worked out perfectly in the stew because it was done just right when the potatoes were cooked. It was a winner.

Since then, I've pretty much stopped buying the slender little carrots in the plastic bag. The produce store nearly always has these big carrots on hand (they call them "cutting carrots") and they're consistently excellent. Give them a try! They may not be what you've been led to expect.


foodbin said...

you're right about the carrot-most food blogger uses the slim and long carrot, i wonder why?

Meg Wolff said...

I came over from John's blog. If you are from Maine, these must be from King's Hill Farm? I like buying these local carrots, too. I use a lot of carrots and would rather wash one large than 3 small!