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Casserole Play

Add cheesy carrots to your Thanksgiving spread
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When it comes to Thanksgiving, the Warman family abides by two hard-and-fast rules.

Rule No. 1: Festivities can only commence after the National Dog Show has crowned its new victor. Rule No. 2: There must be cheesy carrots.

My family's introduction to this wonderful dish, a baked mixture of béchamel, cheese and carrots, came in the late '70s, when my father, Dave, stole the recipe from a woman he was dating at the time (because it's important to get something valuable out of every relationship, obviously). Way to go, Dad, and I'm glad you met my mom.

The ingredients of the dish are very straightforward. You probably already have most of them in your kitchen if you enjoy living life (shredded sharp cheddar cheese, butter, milk, bread crumbs), but if you're like me, you'll have to make a trip to the store to pick up carrots. This is fine. Carrots are very easy to find if you're looking for them.

The seasoning comes from spices that seriously remind me of my childhood (shout-outs to you, onion powder, celery salt and dry mustard). Aside from everything above, all you'll need is salt, pepper, flour and about 50 minutes, five to seven of which you will be doing some serious whisking.

Typically, I'm not a fan of cooked carrots. But guess what? Cooked carrots baked in béchamel and covered with sharp cheddar and bread crumbs are delicious.

Cheesy Carrots

Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients

For the Béchamel Sauce:

¼ cup butter

¼ cup flour

2 cups whole milk

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon onion powder

1¼ teaspoons dry mustard

¼ teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon celery salt

For the carrots:

3 cups carrots, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

3 tablespoons butter

1 cup bread crumbs

Directions

1. Make the béchamel sauce: In a small sauce pan, melt ¼ cup of the butter. Once it has melted, add the flour, whisking constantly. Whisk for 1 more minute until the roux has become a light golden brown and gives off a nutty aroma. Add the milk, whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the salt, onion powder, dry mustard, pepper and celery salt.

2. Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in a medium pot. Add the carrots to the boiling water and cook until almost tender, 7 to 9 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 350°. Put the carrots in a small baking dish and pour the béchamel sauce over them until they are completely covered. Evenly sprinkle the shredded cheese over the mixture. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a medium sauté pan. Add the bread crumbs and cook until they turn golden brown, about 3 minutes.

5. After 20 minutes, remove the baking dish from the oven. Remove the foil and cover the cheese layer with the bread crumbs. Bake for an additional 15 minutes, making sure the bread crumbs don't burn. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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