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Asian Glazed Carrots

I would be lying if I said I loved carrots.

They seem like the perfect snack--crunchy, healthy, bright and cheerful. But I've just never loved them. I have a suspicion that this is because the ones at the supermarket are big and kind of woody, and perhaps if I could find some little tender ones I'd be in business.

And in fact I do adore those skinny carrots that show up at farmer's markets around here in late autumn. To my palate, they're sweeter and have less of the bitterness I associate with the uber-carrots of mass retail.

But we're pretty much stuck with the gigantic ones--they're cheap, and we use them a lot. They go into stocks, mirepoix, soups, and our favorite juice blends. The little ones are just too precious for those applications.

However, carrots are great to have around for other reasons. They keep well in the unforgiving chill of the refrigerator, and they make good, quick side dishes. I love roasting them (as I do with most any vegetable), and a carrot purée is only a quick steam away. But say you're bored with the usual carrot dishes. What then?

I've been working on a glazed carrot recipe for some time. It never seems to turn out exactly like I want it, either being too sweet or too bland. Today, though, I actually had a good idea that turned out to be a game changer for carrots, if such a silly thing exists.

This quick and delicious carrot side dish gets a kick from fresh ginger, garlic, and a Thai chile, but the bulk of the glaze is made from chicken stock, maple syrup, and soy sauce. Don't let the former ingredients worry you--this dish is actually quite mild but pleasantly seasoned and a little different from the usual carrot dishes.

I'm going to call this dish "Asian" knowing full well that it's not authentically anything. Well, it's authentically from my imagination, but that's about it. But I do think of the flavors in this dish--minus the maple syrup--as Asian. I feel like I have to give these disclaimers because there are a lot of people out there ready to comment on something they disagree with. So this is for you folks--I'm calling it Asian, but you could just as easily call it Maple and Soy-Glazed Carrots or some other nonsense. It's delicious. That's just about all you need to know.

Other articles you might enjoy: Chopped Winter Salad, Pressure Cooker Chicken Stock, Chicken Pot Pie

Asian Glazed Carrots
Serves 4 as a side dish

Melt in a large skillet over medium heat:
           2 tablespoons butter or oil
Add:
           1 pound carrots, sliced in 1/2-inch rounds
Stir to coat. Combine in a measuring cup:
           1 cup chicken or vegetable stock or broth
            1 tablespoon maple syrup
            2 teaspoons soy sauce
            2 garlic cloves, minced or microplaned
            1 teaspoon sesame oil
            1 teaspoon grated ginger (from about a 1-inch square piece)
            (1 Thai chile, stemmed and left whole)
Add the liquid to the carrots, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced to a syrupy glaze and the carrots are tender, about 10 minutes. Serve sprinkled with:
           Toasted sesame seeds

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