Do you wake up some mornings knowing that you have to have cooked carrots that day?
When that happens, one must act. Drag out a pot and a tightly-fitting lid. While the pot preheats on the stovetop at low heat, trim the bacon.
This bacon is made with no sugar: it is smoked, but not cured. I asked the local butcher; before too long he had a nice supply in his meat case. We like it for the flavor, because it is the flavor of the bacon, not breakfast cereal, and for the fact that it never leaves burned sugar in the bottom of a pan.
The bacon gets trimmed around here because the cook dislikes the heaviness of bacon fat, preferring lighter fats such as butter, chicken or goose fat, or olive oil. This trimming is fun to do with a boning knife. Here are three:
They are all 10-inch boning knives, but each is different. Cooking is like anything else, in that you try out different tools, methods, and effects, to discover that you have preferences. Here the top knife has a stout, thick blade; a big handle, clunky for me but comfortable for a man; and that big stop going down from the forward edge of the handle. That one is perfect for removing a hide, disjointing a carcass, or deboning a large roast. That is wonderful, but not what we seek this day.
The bottom one is excessively recurved. The carbon-steel blade has been sharpened so much that it has become shorter, back-to-cutting edge. The ratio of that height dimension to blade length is off-target for use in my hands. Were I six inches taller, my arm would be more straight as I stood at my workspace, and so I could wield the thing properly. But I’m not, so I just lend it out to the taller cooks, and otherwise keep it around out of respect for its years of service to our family.
The middle one is just right: the blade is recurved just enough to be useful and thick enough not to waver. The handle fits my hand. The weight and balance are just right. It’s like fitting a sword, but more practical these days. So my general advice is to try various examples of the necessary tools and trust your own assessment of their fitness for you.
Add some butter to that pan on the stove so that it will melt while the bacon is cut to small pieces. Yep, we are going to cook bacon in butter on low heat.
A “French cook knife” is most satisfactory for this bacon-cutting, as the cutting edge is convex. You can rock it back and forth, with one hand on the handle and the other flat on the back of the blade. But that is only when you are not holding a camera at the same time.
There, I’ve just used the back of the knife blade to shove the bacon off into the pan. The bits will separate when stirred around.
At no time do we make bacon “crisp” in this kitchen. When in your own kitchen, do just as you like, but for authentic Kelsay Carrots keep the bacon cooked, but soft.
Cut up some onion next. You need one of those thin-bladed Oriental slicing knives with a straight cutting edge.
A knife like this can slice beef so thin as to be translucent. We can achieve thin slices of onion which will cook through quickly and curl nicely around the carrot chunks.
Do you have an in-law who tells you that you must cut up an onion along some x-axis, then some y-axis, then some z-axis, in that order? My sympathies. Pay no attention. It’s your onion.
Boldly take up your French cook knife and cut up the carrots however you darn please. Now attend: when you have added them to the pot and stirred things around, you may not then leave. To soften these carrots, you need liquid. A little water, a little white wine, or a little broth will do the trick in just a few minutes. Today I have some pork broth handy, so I add enough to cover the carrots halfway, no more. We are not doing soup here.
Put the lid on to fit tightly. Search around for the final ingredient: either sour cream, crème fraîche, or cream. Now learn this the easy way: crème fraîche is resistant to curdling under heat; cream and sour cream comparatively susceptible. For any of them, a minute or two to heat through is all that is needed. If you are using cream or sour cream, wait for the last minute to make the addition.
Now, when is the last minute? The last minute is when the carrots are just soft enough to be nice; you might say al dente. Stand facing the stove, lift off the lid, and stick a fork into a carrot. We need fear no Banshee Beep of Cardiac Arrest to tell us when to proceed to the final addition.
Just a minute or two, now. That’s all that is needed. There:
The plain nature of cold sliced roast beef complements the complexity of Kelsay Carrots at supper. A green vegetable laced with herb vinegar will complement the color and the richness of these carrots. Enjoy the contrasts. Bon appétit! Smacznego! Don’t put your knives in the dishwasher.