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KotW: Hot Carrots November 26, 2008

Posted by schizodigestive in appetizers, Kip of the Week, vegetarian.
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[Junk Food Girl is right; there have been two major episodes of culinary slacking in the last month, one provoked by volunteering for the election, and the other made necessary by the priority of untangling the chaos that my finances, etc., had become during the recent political frenzy. Therefore, I’m going to give you two for the price of one, as it were — a holiday appetizer you can make now, and stock-making instructions in time to get the most from the carcass of your turkey.]

Hot Carrots

In the 21st century, you can find “Mexican” cooking in various degrees of fidelity in almost every part of the United States… but it was not always so. In Boston in the early 1970s, all we knew about was Mexico City Mexican food, which mostly meant elaborate plate dinners with tortillas on the side… if any! So my first collision with Mexican food in the manner of a taqueria was as a tourist in San Diego in 1976 — where I also encountered these for the first time. Over the years, they’ve become sparse as a free side dish, which is too bad, since they’re great. Luckily, they’re also ridiculously easy to make.

one pound carrots, preferably four or five big ones
one-half cup pickled jalapeno pepper slices (“nacho slices”) with a little of their juice
one-half medium yellow onion, optional
one-half teaspoon dried oregano
one-half teaspoon dried thyme
two bay leaves
2 cups (about) rice wine vinegar or, lacking that, white vinegar

Set up either a large saucepan of water, or a double-boiler-type covered steamer, and bring it to a boil. Top, tip, and pare the carrots, and roll-cut them into bite-size pieces. If you’re using the onion, skin it and slice it thin. Steam or boil the cut carrots for three to five minutes, depending on how tender you like them — I tend toward the shorter time. Meanwhile, in a nonreactive quart container (a yogurt container is perfect), combine the pickled peppers, the optional onion, oregano, thyme, and bay leaves.

Add the carrots while they’re still hot from cooking, and quickly pour over enough vinegar to cover. Put the lid on the container and refrigerate it at least overnight. As simple vegetarian appetizers go, this is one of the best ever. Happy Thanksgiving!

ETA: I got asked “What’s the best thing to do if you want your hot carrots hotter?” Good point since my batch for Thanksgiving came out not all that hot.

It seems to me this would be a perfect application for Tabasco sauce — either red or green — which is vinegar-based. Don’t go wild, you don’t want to obliterate the flavor of either of the primary ingredients.

© /KC November 2008

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