Wild carrots originated in Iran and Afghanistan. Currently, there are orange, purple, red, yellow, and white carrot varieties available. While orange-colored varieties are most familiar to us, they only first appeared in the 17th century.
Not only are carrot roots edible, so are the greens. Early on (2000-3000 BC.), Europeans grew carrots for their aromatic leaves and seeds, not their roots. Some relatives of the carrot include parsley, fennel, dill, and cumin.
Eric is currently working on a cookbook, “Black Cat: Farm to Bistro” scheduled for publication in the Fall of 2014. He originally created the following heirloom carrots confit recipe for the cookbook.
In his words, “Gently poached in olive oil and redolent of aromatic spices, the carrots confit is a wonderful focal point around which to build a dish; it has a velvety toothsome texture and a beautiful vibrant appearance. Confit carrots, or other types of confit vegetables, have an amplified flavor and a wonderful texture that is both rich and decadent yet light.”
Carrots confit can be a superstar element of a Mediterranen feast. Eric suggests that you serve carrots confit with yogurt, dolmas, and tabouleh, among other dishes, for variety and contrasting textures and flavors.
The Black Cat farm will grow ten heirloom varieties of carrots this year (Chantennay, Rothschild, Tonda di Parigi, Shin Karuda, Jaune d’Doub, Atomic Red, Little Finger, Snow White, Nantes, Yellowstone). A mainstay of the restaurants, the farm plants large successive crops of carrots throughout the growing season so they can be available nearly all of the time.
Carrots need a little water two times every day to germinate. Once germinated, thin them to 1-2 inches apart.
1 1/2 pounds whole heirloom carrots, peeled or scrubbed, greens removed
Water to cover
Salt to taste
2 cups olive oil
2 pieces star anise
6 cardamom pods
2 tablespoons of orange zest
1. Add enough water in a pan to cover the carrots. Salt the water, so that it tastes like the ocean.
Note: Use a pan that is close in size to the carrots, if possible.
2. Place the carrots lengthwise in the pan and bring the water to a simmer.
3. Simmer the carrots for two minutes, then strain the water.
4. With the carrots in the pan, add the olive oil, spices, and orange zest. Make sure there is enough olive oil to barely cover the carrots. If there isn’t, add more oil.
5. With the heat set to low, cook the carrots until very tender.
6. Salt to taste, if necessary.
7. Remove the carrots from the olive oil to serve.
Note: The olive oil has great flavor and can be re-used in a vinaigrette.