Play Me a Recipe

Kristen Miglore makes Caramelized Cream Carrots

Episode Summary

'The Genius Recipe Tapes' host Kristen Miglore caramelizes carrots in—you guessed it—cream. Learn about butter, fat, and butterfat; the many things you should be cooking in cream from now on; and enjoy some very nice burbling sounds.

Episode Notes

On Play Me a Recipe, your favorite cooks will walk you through their most treasured recipes, offering all the insider tips, stories, and tricks you won't get from a written recipe—and you'll be right alongside them, every step of the way. Feel free to pause, jump back, or navigate the steps via the podcast chapters.

If you're cooking along, here's the recipe we're making today. Go ahead and grab the ingredients below (Kristen starts listing them at 1:58) before  starting the episode.

Caramelized Cream Carrots

"The question today was what if we cooked carrots in a touch of cream? They should first steam and then caramelize in the cream as it transfoms into brown butter. We would eliminate a par cooking step and keep all the flavor in the vegetable. It turns out that the idea works like a charm. I put the carrots, cream and salt into a pan. I covered the pan and cooked the carrots on medium high. When I heard sizzling I removed the lid and stirred the carrots in the reduced and almost broken cream. I continued to cook the carrots turning them in the fat and coating them in the caramelizing milk solids. The cream became a flavorful browned butter. The carrots are tender with a light bite. The caramelized milk solids add a richness.

The next questions we ask: what can be the carrots and what flavors can we add to our cream?"

Excerpted from  Alex Talbot and Aki Kamozawa's Ideas in Food.

Lobby Time Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Episode Transcription

Kristen Miglore (teaser): Can you hear that simmering just starting to happen? So this is where the magic of this technique really comes into play.


Kristen: Hi. This is Play Me a Recipe. I’m Kristen Miglore, coming to you from my home kitchen. Today we’ll be making cream caramelized carrots from the team behind Ideas in Food, Aki Kamozawa and Alex Talbot. The recipe is linked in the show notes if you need to refer to it, but otherwise we'll be gathering ingredients and cooking everything alongside each other, so feel free to pause or jump back if you need a sec.

Kristen: But first, I should tell you a little bit more about how I came across this recipe to begin with, which is that I was looking around on the blog Ideas in Food, which is written by Aki Kamozawa and Alex Talbot, and I don't even know why I was there... I was looking for something else, but I saw this series of posts that they had done on cream-caramelizing—first carrots than eggs, then smashed potatoes and other things. So I stopped in my tracks because I had never seen anything like this before.

They are cooking in straight cream—nothing but cream—in the same way that you would saute something in butter or oil, so, I had to try it. It was amazing. I shared it in Genius Recipes on Food52 in the fall, and our community went pretty crazy for it. I have never, I'll admit, made the carrot version myself. Our test kitchen made them and I tasted them and they were incredible. I went with the eggs for the recipe I shared on Food52, And while it may seem ill-advised to do something that I've never cooked before while recording a podcast, I wanted to do that because I wanted to show you all how flexible this technique is and how it really works for any ingredient that you might like to cook.

Ingredients & equipment

Kristen: You'll need as many carrots as you want to eat and will fit in a single layer in your skillet. I have two good chunky ones here, plus enough heavy cream to pour a decent layer into the skillet. I would have a cup on hand just to be safe. And salt, and that's it.

Step 1: Choose a nonstick skillet

You want to choose a nonstick skillet because you will be much happier cleaning it later on, and you want to pick one with a lid, or if you don't have a lid, fits, that's fine. You can just throw on another skillet on top or a baking sheet, and that's kind of like an all-purpose fits-any-pan lid. I happen to have a set of these nested silicone lids from Five Two that have one size that fits really nicely on my smallest nonstick pan. So I'm just going to use that, okay?

Step 2: Prep the carrots & add to pan with the cream & salt

Kristen: And there are a whole bunch of different benefits to cooking in this way that I'll get into later as I'm cooking. But for now, I'm just gonna dive in and start cutting up these carrots. So I'm not even gonna peel them. I am just going to wash them and scrub them down. I'm pretty reluctant to peel anything these days, partly out of laziness and partly out of not wanting to throw anything away. But if you would like a more refined end product, feel free to peel. So based on the photos on Ideas in Food, I'm gonna cut my carrot, probably about the size of, like, a thumbnail. Like about three-quarters of an inch all around, and I think this is a good size because carrots are obviously a whole lot harder and take longer to cook than eggs. And so you really want to have them cut a reasonable size to cook through quickly.

Okay, I actually just measured my thumbnail. It's more like a half inch, but I think you get the just. Smallish is good, evenly sized is great, and these will cook through quickly in the pan.

Kristen: I am going to put my cream, my carrots, and a little bit of salt into this pan, and this is really more of an eyeballing job than exact measurements. I'm just going to pour in enough cream that I get a thin layer in the bottom. This will depend a lot on the ingredient that you choose. I feel like with eggs, I often realize after the fact that I've put in a little bit too much cream. You really don't need much because the eggs cook through so quickly and have so much moisture on their own. But if you're using an ingredient like carrots that need a little bit more help, then having a slightly more generous amount of cream in the bottom of the pan, maybe an eighth-of-an-inch deep to a quarter-inch deep is going to go a long way. So my thin layer of cream is in the pan. I'm going to sprinkle in some salt and scoop in my carrots.

Kristen: You just wanna make sure that you have your ingredient in basically a single layer, and that there's not a ton of room left in the pan where cream could sneak off and burn. And everything just kind of has snuggled in nicely.

Step 3: Turn the heat to medium-high

(cream starts to simmer)

Kristen: Can you hear that simmering just starting to happen?

So this is where the magic of this technique really comes into play. As the cream is bubbling, it is eventually going to break down into butterfat and buttermilk, which normally when we're cooking with a dairy product, sounds like a bad thing. It sounds like breaking, sounds like curdling, but with cream, what you get is a lot of good stuff. It's butterfat that will sizzle the carrots and then buttermilk that will steam and help them cook through as it's steaming away. And then, over time, the butterfat is going to turn to brown butter as the milk solids toast and caramelize.

Starting to smell really, really good. As the cream is reducing and steaming away, it’s buttermilk, and the carrots—they're just kind of happily bobbing along in there. The cream is already starting to reduce down and look a little bit thicker, but the carrots need some time to cook through, so this is a good time to take a break while they keep bubbling along.


Kristen: Hey, we are back. Before the break, I threw some carrots, cream, and salt into a nonstick pan. Put a lid on it, cranked up the heat and the carrots started boiling in the cream. Since then, the cream has broken into butterfat and these milk solids that are not quite turned to brown butter yet, but I believe they will soon.

Step 4: Remove the lid, stir & cook until just tender

Kristen: So now you want to take the lid off and start stirring them around so they can get coated in these browning milk solids, and I'm going to just poke them with a fork to see how done they are. My fork just sank through an entire carrot with a little bit of resistance, so this is kind of perfect. I think that just as the brown butter starts getting really nutty is right when the carrots are gonna be about as tender as I would want them.

I don't know if you can hear this, but it's really cool that not only is this visually changing, as I've been trying to describe to you, but the sounds changed, too. I feel like when the cream was bubbling along in the beginning, it was kind of a lower, more liquidy sounding burble. And as the buttermilk steamed away, it's gotten more high-pitched and kind of hissing, as it's now in sort of like a sautéing phase. So the cool thing about that is that for any vegetables where you would have been asked to blanch them first and then sauté them, this eliminates a step. You're basically steaming and sautéing all in the same pan. Plus, it happens to be really delicious liquid that you're steaming in and brown butter at the end.

Kristen: The great thing about this technique, though, is that you can adjust is you go. So if you realize that your carrots aren't quite cooked through and you really need more liquid, you could splash in more cream or even some stock or some water to help finish steaming those carrots while you're caramelizing them. If instead your carrots are looking good, but you still have a lot of cream in the pan. That is actually not such a problem. And in fact, I think you will really enjoy eating it. But if you wanted to, you could spoon some of that off.

All right, I think these are pretty great. They have brown butter all over the place. I stuck a fork in and they're very nicely tender, and coated in all of these little delicious, nutty bits. And now I just have to wait for it to cool off enough so that I could bite it.

Okay... this carrot is cool enough to try and take a bite. (While chewing) Wow. Okay, so just like everything else that I've made with this technique, this tastes nothing like any carrot I've ever had before. It's clearly still the sweet, fresh taste of carrot on the inside, but it has softened through with this richness that you would never get from just simply sautéing in butter or olive oil. It's got this extra nuttiness. It's even different from if you had sautéed in brown butter, because it never would have been able to penetrate that much into the middle before it burned, if you didn't have that buttermilk steaming away in the beginning.


Kristen: Hey, how did your carrots turn out? Are they tender and nutty? Are they unlike any carrot you've ever had? Let me know how it all went by leaving us a rating and review. We’ll be playing new recipes weekly, and if there's a Food52 recipe, you'd like to hear us make email it to us at Happy cream-caramelizing!