Glazing is a cooking method that enhances or complements the sweet flavor of carrots without losing the bright color. Look for small to medium sized carrots that are firm and not too thick. Although it doesn’t take long to cook them -- less than 30 minutes from preparation to serving -- cooking them a day ahead is a time-saver. Glazed carrots don’t suffer from sitting in a refrigerator overnight and they’re simple to reheat and serve.
Sweet glazes are common for carrots, with white sugar, brown sugar or honey providing extra sweetness to the vegetable. Any liquid works in a glaze, from water to orange juice, depending on your desired flavor. Savory glazes are a good accompaniment to strongly flavored entrees, such as beef or lamb. Add soy sauce to the water you cook the carrots in and season with garlic or ginger for a salty, tangy dish. Herbs, such as rosemary or a bay leaf, add earthiness to carrots. Whether you choose sweet or savory, most glazes benefit from the addition of a little butter to add a silky flavor and texture.
The quickest method for glazing carrots -- handy on a busy weeknight -- is to cook all the ingredients in one pot. Add your seasonings to a saucepan or skillet, including your chosen liquid, such as broth or juice, and mix in carrots you've cut into bite-sized pieces. Add water as needed until the liquid reaches halfway up the carrots. Cover the pot and let the carrots cook over medium heat until they're just barely tender. Uncover the pot and turn the heat up, stirring the carrots until the liquid is mostly evaporated and you're left with a glaze. Because you'll reheat the carrots the next day you don't want to cook them all the way through the first time because they could become mushy.
Let the carrots cool completely after you cook them -- they'll continue to cook a bit after you remove them from the heat, which is another reason you don't want to cook them completely. Store them in a glass or plastic container and cover with a lid or plastic wrap. The carrots will store well for up to two days in the refrigerator, but it's best to serve them the next day as the flavor and texture will degrade over time.
While you can reheat the carrots the next day in a microwave using a microwave-safe container, you'll find the best flavor comes from gently reheating them on the stove. Add just a bit of butter or oil to the pan to prevent sticking and heat over medium-low until the carrots are warmed through and just beginning to brown.