Braised Carrots and Parsnips with Dried Cranberries
Cooks Illustrated, November/December 2016, page 19.
The cooking liquid becomes your sauce when braising, so the trick to making a great braised vegetable side dish is to create a sauce that coats the vegetables well and infuses them with flavor but also stands on its own. Carrots serve as the anchor in each recipe since they offer a sweetness that plays well with most any other root vegetable; plus, they add bright color. Slicing the carrots and other vegetables (parsnips, turnips, celery root, sweet potato) 1/4 inch thick ensured that they cooked through evenly and quickly. We found that a mixture of chicken broth and apple cider gave us a base with depth and sweetness that complemented most any root vegetable; wine came across as punchy and too tart. Reducing the cooking liquid slightly before the root vegetables were added and finishing with butter and Dijon mustard gave the sauce a silky texture and some body. Fruit (or candied ginger, in the case of our sweet potato recipe) and a fresh herb lent color and bright, fresh flavor.
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup apple cider
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt and pepper
- 1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced on bias 1/4 inch thick
- 1 pound parsnips, peeled and sliced on bias 1/4 inch thick
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Adapted from cooksillustrated.com
For a vegetarian version, you can substitute vegetable stock or water for the chicken broth.
1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large Dutch oven over high heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and just beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add broth, cider, thyme sprigs, bay leaves, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; bring to simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add carrots and parsnips, stir to combine, and return to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, 10 to 14 minutes.
2. Remove pot from heat. Discard thyme sprigs and bay leaves and stir in cranberries. Push vegetable mixture to sides of pot. Add mustard and remaining 2 tablespoons butter to center and whisk into cooking liquid. Stir to coat vegetable mixture with sauce, transfer to serving dish, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.