Once you make French glazed carrots Vichy style, you'll never want them any other way. This classic side dish returns every holiday season thanks to many celebrity chefs around the globe - but there's nothing new about this authentic recipe.
Discover the difference between glazed and Vichy as well as its name.
Whatever be the ultimate purpose for which carrots are intended, they should be prepared in this way.Chef Auguste Escoffier in his Guide to Modern Cookery (1903), on Glazed Carrots (Entry N°2059 - 'carottes glacées pour garnitures').
What Ingredients are in Glazed Carrots?
There's no need to buy them ready-prepared as this recipe is so easy to prepare at home in under 30 minutes. Glazed carrots have only 3 main ingredients: fresh carrots (ideally organic), butter and sugar. With only a little water to barely cover the vegetables, add just a pinch of salt and a few grinds of the pepper mill.
As they cook and the water evaporates, you're left a few minutes later with tender carrots (but still with a little bite), covered in a reduced syrup. Turn them in this glaze et voilà - that's all folks! (Couldn't resist, doc!)
What Does Vichy Mean in Cooking?
According to my trusted Larousse Gastronomique, Vichy in French culinary terms applies to the way this carrot side dish is cooked.
Vichy, one of the biggest spa towns in France since the 17th century, is renowned for its naturally sparkling mineral water. What distinguishes it to other French mineral waters is its bicarbonate and sodium content, making it particularly salty.
I'm the only one in the family that actually likes drinking the stuff on its own - particularly appreciated these days with increasing heatwaves in France! For those that love mint, you'll love old-fashioned Vichy bonbons or candies also made in Vichy, found in many of the best sweet shops in Paris (confiseries).
So, traditionally, these carrots are cooked in the salty Vichy Saint-Yorre mineral water with sugar and butter until the liquid reduces to a syrup.
Why Do Restaurant Carrots Taste Better?
Restaurant carrots always taste particularly good as they are glazed in butter. Chef Escoffier's same glazing method applies to little navet turnips: cook in a little water and glaze in butter, a little sugar and you have something that's fit for a restaurant table rather than just for grazing Scottish sheep.
What's the Difference Between Glazed and Vichy Carrots?
Chef Escoffier explains this so well. Basically, Vichy carrots are the same as glazed carrots but cooked traditionally in the salty Vichy-St Yorre mineral water and served with finely chopped fresh parsley.
Depending on size, the carrots are either left whole if not too thick, halved or quartered - or sliced.
How Can I Enhance the Flavour of Glazed Carrots?
The sweet, earthy taste of carrots goes well with fresh aromatic herbs. Chef Escoffier adds the freshly chopped parsley at the end to turn normal glazed vegetables into Carottes à la Vichy. I also like to add a few sprigs of fresh lemon thyme at the beginning of cooking. This is a great all-rounder but, depending on what you're serving it with, rosemary is also an enhancer with a stronger flavour to accompany more robust lamb, beef, veal or chicken dishes.
Unlike parsley which is added only at the end to preserve their vitamins and flavour, the natural oils in both thyme and rosemary can cope with being cooked from the start.
Do They Reheat Well?
Glazed carrots can be reheated very well - either on the day itself or even next day if you have leftovers. Either reheat, covered, for a few seconds in the microwave or for 2-3 minutes in the saucepan with a little water.
If you just have a few left, then these are great chopped up and added at the end of cooking to this Chicken Tagine with Prunes. The sweetness of the carrots combines beautifully with tagine.
Glazed Carrots Vichy Style
- 1 kilo (2lb/ 8 carrots) carrots whole, halved, quartered depending on size (or sliced)
- 15 g (1 tbsp) sugar
- 30 g (2 tbsp) butter
- 250 ml (1 cup) water or Vichy St Yorre French mineral water*
- 3 g (¼ teaspoon each) salt and pepper
- ¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley finely chopped
- 1 sprig fresh lemon thyme optional
- Peel carrots, leaving whole if slim. Otherwise cut in 2 vertically or quarter if particularly thick. Place in a saucepan or frying pan, covering in the water.
- Add the sugar, salt, bicarbonate of soda, butter and pepper. Add a sprig of thyme, if using.
- Bring briefly to the boil, then turn down the heat to simmer and cover the pan with a lid. Leave to cook for 12-15 minutes, depending on their size, until the water has nearly evaporated but just a little syrup left. They should be tender when pricked with a knife but still have that 'al dente' bite (not mushy).
- Using a spoon, gently turn the carrots around in the glaze and add the parsley to serve.