If you've had carrot and orange juice, you know just how well those two flavors play together. Well, that was the inspiration for this meal. Farm fresh carrots are so lovely and so enjoyable that I just wanted to highlight how special they can be. So, you know, I added bourbon as one does.
This side dish is slightly sweet and smokey (thank you bourbon!) with just a hint of spice from the cardamom pod. Of course, the thyme helps round out all those flavors nicely, giving it a bright finish. Trust me, this dish is as beautiful on the taste buds as it is to photograph!
Wash the carrots thoroughly and let them dry. I do this by adding them to a large pitcher with warm water and a couple tablespoons of white vinegar and then let them soak for 15 minutes. After they soak, scrub them with a vegetable brush (which will be easy at this point) and rinse them off. Then let them dry thoroughly.
Now trim off the carrot tops (tee hee...Carrot Top). Don't discard the greens! You can use them in a vegetable stock or you can use them as a pesto. I swear! It is really good.
Using a dutch oven (or any deep pan that is oven safe), melt 1 tablespoon of butter along with the olive oil over a medium-high heat. Once it has melted, add the carrots and cook them for about 10 minutes until they are just tender.
Turn off the heat and juice the tangelo (don't waste those peels), adding the juice to the pot. You can also add some zest from the tangelo. Just a teaspoon should be enough and it will add a nice bitter to this dish.
Crush your cardamom pod, mashing the seeds. Then add the whole pod and the seeds to your dutch oven. Honestly, I just love the smell of cardamom. Yum!
Add the remaining ingredients--the clove of garlic, a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, the tablespoon of brown sugar, and the 3 sprigs of fresh thyme.
Cover the carrots and the braising mixture with a sheet of parchment paper. This is very important. When you braise, the vapors rise to the lid but tend to decrease in flavor as a result. By adding a layer of parchment between the braising mixture and the lid, they travel less and you will end up with a much more intense flavor.
Cook the carrots in a pre-heated oven at 375 degrees F for about 30 minutes, until they are super tender. They should almost fall apart.