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Orange-Braised Carrots and Parsnips

The Challenge

This week's challenge included German Chocolate Cupcakes and these Orange-Braised Carrots and Parsnips, found here or on page 170 of Foolproof.

Mary's Take:

A couple of weeks ago, we tried out Ina's Endive, Orange & Roquefort Salad (which I've now made 3 times!), and, this week, we have another orange-themed dish. I'm a fruit-by-season kinda girl. I'll eat oranges only in the winter, apples only in the fall, peaches only in the summer (God, I can't wait for peach season). It felt natural, then, to schedule these orangey recipes during the cold winter months.

Lots of pretty colors, right? This recipe is super easy, but takes surprisingly long to make - most of it hands-off, but still. If I had read the recipe ahead of time like a good little cook (I should really heed my own advice), I would have started this before I prepped and started roasting my chicken. [Lea: I did read the recipe ahead of time and was still not good on time.]

I didn't find thin parsnips, as the recipe recommended, in the bulk veggie section...and I didn't want to get the bag of them since it's always a mixture of fatties and skinnies, so I just got the ones above. They worked out just fine. [Lea: Whew. Mine looked like yours, too.]

I love my electric citrus juicer. [Lea: Of course you do. Who doesn't? And by that I mean, who owns an electric citrus juicer except my sister?] [Mary: Ina.] [Lea: Touché.]I bought it a long time ago after watching Ina use hers and I happily pulled mine out for the 1 1/4 cups of orange juice needed. [Lea: This was the first time you've used it since you bought it, wasn't it?] Isn't it cute? [Lea: Precious.] I'm always amazed that it doesn't drip when the red stopper is engaged. [Lea: You know what else works? The yellow plastic juicer I found in my bottom kitchen drawer.] [Mary: But that's sooooo much more wooooork.]

The sliced carrots and parsnips fit perfectly inside my oval dutch oven. [Lea: They fit just fine in a round one, too, when you cut them to fit.] [Mary: You sure are crabby.] [Lea: Oops, sorry.]

After you prepare all the ingredients and place them in the pot, bring the liquid to a boil on the stovetop. Cover and pop it into the oven for 1 1/2 hours, until the veggies are tender. I checked mine at an hour and they were done. Thank goodness, because my chicken was done, too.

Lea's Take:

Raise your hand if you've never made a parsnip? Just me? Yeah, I didn't even know what they looked like before this challenge, so look at me, getting all knowledgeable about root vegetables!

Luckily, the vanilla grocery store had parsnips, so I was able to one-stop-shop this week. Ina's recipe calls for carrots with the greens attached. I have to ask... why? We have to cut off the greens right away, so what's the difference between these and the pre-bagged carrots I normally buy? [Mary: Good question. It may be because the ones with tops are usually thinner and all about the same size. Which makes them look prettier on the platter and cook evenly. That's my guess, anyway.] [Lea: Let's go with that.]

I really should start a list of Ina questions for if/when we ever meet her.

Anyway, the day I made this recipe, we had a debacle of a day (which I'll get into more detail in the German Chocolate Cupcake post). I made a roast for dinner and thought the carrots and parsnips would be a nice side (alongside mashed potatoes, of course). As Mary said, the recipe takes a long time, but not necessarily a lot of work. I won't bore you with the details, but my experience is shockingly close to hers. Except, of course, for the juicer:

Isn't it cute for $1.99? [Mary: It's a pretty color. Where'd you get it? Goodwill?] [Lea: HA! Also? Shuttup. But, really, I have no idea. I think this was leftover from my "what's this and do I need it?" cleaning spree... since I knew what it was, I decided to keep it.] It even has an easy-pour spout!

PS. I think this image alone perfectly sums up the difference between my cooking and Mary's.

The Verdict

Mary: You might recall that I'm not a big sweet-with-my-savory meal kind of girl (although that's how I like my desserts), but I do love carrots and parsnips, which turn sweet as they roast. These were really good and went perfectly with the spatchcocked chicken (my favorite way to roast one). I think next time I will add a bit more of the crushed red pepper so the heat can offset even more the sweetness of the orange juice.

And by "next time", I'm hoping I mean next winter when oranges are back in fingers (and toes) are crossed that spring is right around the corner! Bring on the asparagus!

Lea: For me, they were a bit heavy on the orange. I agree with Mary about adding more red pepper flakes next time (read: there probably won't be a next time because I think I'm the only one who really ate them)

Josh: Not my favorite.

Mr. Good Eater: Eh, they're OK.

Mr. Picky Pants: I don't like them.

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