Monday, 30 January 2012 | 23 comments

Charred carrots with griddled goat cheese

While Ben and I were browsing the most amazing bookstore I’ve ever seen in Buenos Aires, I stumbled upon an absolute gem of a cookbook. Siete Fuegos, written by famous Argentine chef Francis Mallman, draws on his upbringing in Patagonia, cooking over outdoor fires with gauchos. It’s fresh and authentic, and I loved it as soon as I flipped it open.I didn’t have room in my carry-on only luggage to buy the book and carry it home, but I jotted down a few ideas and vowed to look it up when I got back. It was beautifully photographed and I sighed a little, jealous of people whose lifestyles let them spend whole days, weekends even, cooking over outdoor fires. Back in the States, Ben’s emails started arriving, describing the Uruguayan vineyard in which he’s spending the harvest. Everything sounded a little familiar, and I realized that Ben is living the Uruguay version of Siete Fuegos.

We went for a swim after work, and then lounged around in the shade of the courtyard [...] At this point, they started getting the fire ready in the massive parilla (giant outdoor grill) and we soon enjoyed the smell of onions, eggplants, chorizo, morcella (blood sausage) and huge cuts of beef grilling slow and steady. By dusk, we all sat out in the courtyard at one long table and ate and drank for the next two hours.

Feeling a little left out of the parilla party, I turned back to my notes and Mallman’s book and found this. One of the great things about the book is its total shameless embrace of “burnt” everything. There are specific instructions to throw ingredients—cheese, veggies, meat, even pastries and desserts—onto the hot parilla (grill) and not move them until they get good and charred. Spanish has a much smaller lexicon than English, without our silly euphemisms like “charred” and “blackened”, so they’re all simply “burnt”, like this recipe for “burnt carrots” with “burnt goat cheese” I like it. It’s honest. This recipe unlocks a special secret that carrots have always had but we never knew. I’ve had roasted carrots, but they don’t come close to approximating the complex flavor of these. They’re laid on a very hot cast iron skillet, grill pan, or if you’re lucky, a grill over a real fire, until they’re blackened more than you might think is wise, and then tossed in a tangy vinagrette. It is probably my favorite salad or side dish I’ve had in years.

Charred carrots with griddled goat cheese

This is adapted fairly liberally from Francis Mallman’s recipe in Siete Fuegos—he serves the carrots over arugula for more of a salad; I like them by themselves with more focus on the parsley as a sort of side dish. I’ve written the instructions to include the option of serving over greens.

You will need

    For the carrots:
    1 bunch of carrots (about 1 pound, or about 8 large carrots)
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    Coarse salt

    For the vinaigrette:
    2-3 tablespoons good apple cider vinegar (I like Bragg’s)
    1/4 cup olive oil
    Coarse salt
    Black pepper

    For the griddled goat cheese:
    3-ounce log of soft, creamy goat cheese, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
    1 tablespoon olive oil

    For assembly:
    1 cup flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
    4 cups peppery greens, such as arugula (optional)

Directions

  1. Scrub the carrots. Remove tops and ends, and slice then down the middle, and then again so that they form long batons. You’re looking for thick sticks here, bigger than the type of carrot sticks we’d put in a lunchbox. Toss the carrots in the one tablespoon olive oil and a few pinches of salt, and set aside.

    In a small bowl, whisk together the apple cider vinegar and 1/4 cup olive oil. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

    If serving as a salad with greens, pile the salad greens on a big platter or on individual plates.

    Heat a cast iron skillet or grill pan over high heat until very hot. Arrange the carrots in a single layer in a skillet with one of their flat sides down. After they’ve been placed, don’t move them. After 3-5 minutes, when the carrots begin to blacken, turn them a bit. Cook longer, allowing them to char on another side and cook through, another 3-5 minutes. There may be some smoke, so turn on your fan in your oven hood if you have one.

    Remove the carrots from the skillet and place on platter or individual plates (if you’re using salad greens, these will go on top of the greens). Turn off the heat, and add an additional one tablespoon olive oil to the skillet and swirl to coat. Bring to very high temperature, and lay the goat cheese rounds on the skillet. Be careful, it may spatter a bit. When the cheese rounds have formed a brown-black crust on the bottom, use a fork or thin spatula to scoop them up. Invert the rounds on top of the carrots which have been plated.

    Drizzle everything with the vinaigrette, and sprinkle very liberally with parsley. Serve warm.

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§ 23 responses to Charred carrots with griddled goat cheese

  • This looks amazing. I can imagine that the flavor of those carrots is out of this world. I kind of want to haul my grill out from the basement just to make these! My cast iron skillet will have to do.

  • Funny, I was thinking carrots for Meatless Monday. I love the “burnt” idea. Wheels turning . . . . Lovely, thank you so much. The story makes it!

  • Saw your post this morning and cooked some carrots this way for lunch! Totally so good! I served them over de puy lentils, with avocado, green onion, and some left over vinaigrette dressing I made last night. Everything was so good, and I loved how quick it was to cook the carrots. Thank you! I’ll have to try it with the burnt goat cheese next time.

  • :( missing argentine summers like no other now! My best friend has a farm house in Punta del Este, Uruguay. Its like a dream, chickens, garden, pool, grapes covering the side of the house. Seeing his pics and then hearing this is making want to drop everything and fly down. There is nothing better then sun filled summer days, grilling food, wearing sandals, this is enjoyment for me. sigh.

  • Burnt carrots are my go-to weeknight meal. Seriously. I’ve never thought to do them in the cast iron pan though, so this will be happening this week for sure. (ps) These memories of Argentina make me want to book a flight, immediately.

  • I couldn’t resist a big bunch of leafy organic carrots at the store a couple of days ago, and they’ve been sitting in the fridge just waiting for me to come up with a use for them. Here it is! Trying this tomorrow.

  • Lovely! This looks so delicious – yum! :)

  • Beautiful photos and the recipe sounds gorgeous. I love how you’ve taken a wintry vegetable like carrots and injecting a new lease of life with fresh herbs and bright flavours.

  • Cooking over a fire…sounds idyllic. I’m always looking for ways to dress up a carrot or two, and I don’t know why, but I really like the sound of blackened rounds of goat cheese. If I find myself with carrots and goat cheese sometime soon, I’ll know what to do.

  • The other day I accidentally burnt some cauliflower and broccoli that I was roasting in the oven. Turned out to be a happy mistake when I paired it with some balsamic and parmesan. I think the Argentinians are onto something.

  • Just found your blog and so happy I did. This recipe looks fabulous. I love goat cheese. Can’t wait to go back and browse through some of your older posts. Looking forward to following along.

  • Oh! Have actually just gotten into roasting carrots – and love them – so must definitely try this out (though perhaps another cheese for me, as goat’s sadly not to my taste ….). Merci!

  • Sounds so dreamy… I wish, I wish, I wish… Don’t we all? This looks so good!

  • I found your blog through Tea and Cookies and I purchased the 7 Fires Book for my husband. We’ve been thinking about a trip to Argentina…because the lifestyle is so appealing (and so opposite of the way we live in NYC). Nice reco. Thanks.

  • Love this. I’ve been thinking about grilling carrots. I’ve done the same with cauliflower, but carrots would be just heaven.

  • Ohhhh, this may be the most inspiring dish I’ve seen in ages. I love, love, love it and can’t wait to get back home to start burning delicious things. :-)

  • Christy

    Just made this amazing dish, I highly recommend it. The charred carrots mix so well with the warm goat cheese. Thank you so much for this blog!

  • hello! so it looks like i’m a little late to try it but i’m so glad i did! the burntness of this technique is perfect. and my husband now insists that every salad have burnt goat cheese. thanks!

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