Grill-roasted Chili-spiced Carrots
People are always surprised to find out my wife and I are a Blue Apron couple—they wonder how someone they equate with always cooking his own thing can be interested in a meal service. The truth of the matter is, we became a Blue Apron household over a year ago after a long stint of not cooking and always eating out, but have since tired of it and have failed to cancel our membership. It's usually my job to go in and skip the next month's deliveries, but with the business of the start of the holiday season, I totally forgot to do it in November, and surprise, a Blue Apron box arrived on Thanksgiving Day when my fridge was already bursting at its seams. We eventually did eat that food, which offered a nice respite from leftovers, but those meals that we did not select all leaned in heavily on carrots. I felt like I was eating carrots for a week, so what do I do when it was Meatwave time the next weekend and I could cook whatever I wanted to? Make more carrots!
Truth be told, this carrot recipe was a direct result of that Blue Apron delivery, which had one set of these orange veggies done up as "fries" with a smoky and lightly spicy seasoning. I really enjoyed them and thought they'd make a good addition to the line-up I had going on for my Meatwave. So I started out my recipe with a chili-heavy spice mixture that brought a full range of pepper qualities from earthy to smoky to lightly sweet and fruity.
I then prepared the carrots in a "fry" manner, cutting them into long and skinny slices. Depending on the size of the carrot, this usually had me cutting eat one into two equal pieces and then slicing the thinner lower half into two or four sticks, and the top half into four or six sticks.
Once all sliced up, I piled the carrots into a large bowl and tossed with olive oil and the seasoning. You can add the seasoning to your taste here, but I went in heavy because I'm drawn to bolder flavors and wanted each bite of every carrot to be embedded with that delicious peppery profile.
One thing that Blue Apron box lacked was a proper dip for the carrot fries, leaving me wondering what I would make as an appropriate accompaniment. The answer came by way of a cucumber-mint raita—an Indian yogurt condiment—that I altered here to add in jalapeños as well, to get yet another layer of chili into the final side dish.
To grill these, I used a two-zone fire, with all of the coals situated on one side of the charcoal grate. I then placed the carrots on the cool side of the grill, covered, and let roast.
The total cooking time until these orange sticks were totally tender and browned was about 25 minutes. I checked on the progress a couple times and moved the carrots around as needed, transferring ones that were already browning further away from the fire, and ones needing more heat to finish up, closer to the fire. This resulted in all the carrots being done at the same time.
Once done, I plated them up and served with the dip. A number of my guests initially thought these were sweet potatoes, and indeed, that would be my normal choice and I've done a very similar recipe with those spuds. Carrots, however, delivered a very different end result. Where a sweet potato creates a balance and contrast to the earthy heat of the seasoning, the less sugary carrots really let that spice mixture shine. The carrots themselves were tender and delicious, but those spices delivered an amazing smoky and earthy flavor that paired well with dip that at the same time provided some cooling effect as well as another hit of mellow heat. Maybe it was worth forgetting to cancel that Blue Apron delivery to lead me to this recipe, but really, I don't know why I haven't just closed my account outright. I guess until I do, little surprises like this a bound to pop up again, and that isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Grill-roasted Chili-spiced Carrots
- Yield 6-8 servings
- Prep 15 Minutes
- Inactive 2 Hours
- Cook 25 Minutes
- Total 2 Hours 40 Minutes
- For the Dipping Sauce
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup coarsely grated seeded hothouse cucumber (about 1/2 a large cucumber)
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeño (about 1 medium jalapeño)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1 lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- Kosher salt, to taste
- For the Carrots
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2lbs medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2 by 1/2-inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- To make the dipping sauce: In a medium bowl, mix together yogurt, cucumber, jalapeño, mint, lemon juice, and cumin. Season with salt to taste. Place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours, and up to three days, to chill and let flavors meld.
- To make the carrots: In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, salt, brown sugar, cumin, black pepper, and smoked paprika. Place carrots in a large bowl and add in oil and seasoning. Toss to coat evenly.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place carrots on cool side of grill, cover, and let cook until well browned and a paring knife can be inserted into middle of carrots with no resistance, 25-30 minutes. Transfer carrots to a platter and serve immediately with dipping sauce.