I remember winter of ’53. I was an inexperienced punk whippersnapper attending cooking school in upstate New York. I’d already spent a few years cooking in my small-town mountain Chateau but had ascended to doing little more than pot washing and potato peeling. Now, I was in the big leagues, surrounded by students and the widest collection of Certified Master Chefs on the planet.
In the beginning, we learned culinary math and history. We took basic business classes to learn simple budgeting, how to calculate food costs and determine food yield, after preparation. We learned product identification (orange, beef tongue, kiwi, ostrich egg, purple potato, etc.). After a few itchy months, we finally got to get into real kitchens and cook.
The first true cooking class was called Skills.
Practice makes perfect. As someone who has made thousands of little baked doohickeys, I understand that my first whatchamacallit was nowhere near as good, not as intentional and not as pristinely formed, topped, baked, colored and served as my most recent thingamajig. Each hoohah taught me a micro-lesson or two, building both knowledge and muscle memory. Repetition really helps eek these lessons along!
Day 1 of Skills, we made little footballs out of carrots. 18 students, led by Chef Fessy (an aging French chef who only ever smiled when discussing melting butter), stood around 3 massive wood tables tournéeing carrot after carrot. We would have two bowls. In one bowl went the little malformed carrot footballs and in the other bowl went all the carrot shavings.
Chef Fessy would walk circles around us, criticizing us for having too few or too many sides on our carrots, or for making them too long or too short. He would kick our legs to keep us strong and alert, not simply slowly and idly cutting carrots. We were doing a deliberate action that required all of our attention. Using small paring knives, we would shave curl after curl off raw carrots, releasing the little two-inch seven-sided football from the insides of horse carrots.
After a full day of trimming carrots, we sent them off to more advanced classes to be used for stocks, sauces, purees and meals for students.
The first Tournée looked awful, abstract and obtuse. The last one, after much concentration and mouth-breather drooling … looked about perfect! My first mastery of a technique. What a proud proud day!
(This was about the last time I’d ever seen a true Tournée in my professional career. They’re great for lessons, but they’re a bit outdated.)
The next day, we arrived in class to find more bags of carrots. Our backs and feet all hurt from the preceding day of standing and carving. It looks like were at it, again! This time, we were learning the Oblique cut (also known as the roll cut), which is one of my favorite cuts, to this day. It looks lumpy, chunky and random, but it’s actually quite intentional.
Oblique cut carrots are cut this way to make them roughly the same size, so they cook evenly. They’re quite common in stews and rustic dishes, like glazed carrots. They’re a hoot to cut, cook and eat!
To cut an Oblique cut, use a washed (optionally peeled) carrot and cut the tip off, with the knife at a 45-degree angle, to the carrot. Then, roll the carrot 45 degrees and make another cut. Then, roll another 45 degrees, making another cut. Continue rolling the carrot, cutting at a slanted angle, until you run out of carrot. The end result is a small pile of similar sized carrot chunkules, demanding to be candied!
Here’s a video showing someone cutting Obliques.
Note: This recipe is intended to be basic and simple. It’s just 4 ingredients, but it is a nourishing and comforting side dish for most any night. It is particularly welcome around a holiday meal. You can always toss some fresh herbs in it, at the last minute. Add something that complements the rest of the meal! Some chili flakes or chili powder could be nice. Some fresh thyme or rosemary would be tasty. Fresh mint? Sure! Or, what about sage? Perfect with a pork or turkey roast! This recipe is a perfect base. Use it, as is, or add a few fresh herbs or spices to add a pinch of character.
Final note: I have made this many times with various erythritol-based sweetener blends, but somehow the carrots would always absorb the sweetener, making them taste great, but the glaze isn’t very glazey. As a result, I’ve never written it up as a recipe. However, I recently tried it with Allulose, another zero GI sweetener and find that the glaze was gloopy and clung to the carrots in a nice glazey way!
The other final note: Back when I first started my own weight loss journey, I read that cooked carrots were very high on the glycemic index and should be avoided, even though they’re nowhere near as high in carbs as most starches. I avoided them like the plague, but finally found an article discussing the cooked carrot myth and learned that it was all a mistake. Cooked carrots are just fine. It’s a myth based on faulty results in testing, perpetuated by the low-carb community.
Final Final Note: Eat carrots.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time25 mins
- 2 lb. carrots washed (optionally peeled)
- 1/4 cup butter cubed
- 1/3 cup allulose (or equivalent favorite sweetener)
- salt to taste
Cut the carrots into a consistent size and shape (see notes and video above, about oblique cutting).
In a wide mouthed pan (with a lid, lid removed), add the carrots and about 1/4 cup (60mL) water, along with a good dusting of salt (about 1/2 tsp [3 mL]). Place the lid on the pan, turn the heat to medium high and allow the carrots to cook for about 5 minutes.
Check the carrots. At about 5 minutes, they should start softening. Remove the lid and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Stir occasionally to keep the carrots moving and cooking evenly. The water should mostly evaporate. If the water evaporates too quickly, before the carrots are softened, you can always add a tablespoon or two (15 to 30 mL) more.
Once the carrots are a nice texture (softened, but not mushy), pour off any excess water (a little is ok, but if it’s soupy, drain off most of the liquid). Turn the heat to low. Then, stir in the butter, sweetener and another nice dusting of salt (another 1/2 tsp [3 mL] or so).
Stir the butter around the carrots, to melt with the sweetener. As the butter melts, it should emulsify with whatever liquid is still in the carrots and “glaze” the carrots with a sweet and salty butter glaze.
Add any other fresh herbs or spices you’d like to add and quickly serve hot!