Rum and Honey-Roasted Cayenne-Cumin Carrots

by Hilary Gauntt on January 22, 2018

PR whiz and bi-coastal hostess extraordinaire Susan Mactavish Best hosts large house parties several times a month, making much of the staggering amount of interesting food herself. Sunset Magazine featured her parties over many pages recently and it all looks pretty amazing. This recipe jumped out at me as quite a unique appetizer; she describes them as “sweet, hot, salty and juicy, and very popular.” Since I wasn’t having 125 people over for drinks anytime soon, I cut the recipe down to 10 carrots instead of 50 and we had them for dinner. Really delicious with the feta adding a richness to this vegetable dish. I will give you her party-size recipe and you can cut it down as you see fit. She leaves on a couple of inches of the carrot top, but those look kind of unappetizing I thought, so I trimmed them off.

50 medium carrots with green tops (about 6 1/2 pounds)

1 cup dark rum (or bourbon, or even tequila)

1/2 cup EACH maple syrup (or molasses, agave or honey) and extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 to 2 tsp. cayenne

1 tbs. ground cumin

About 1 tbs. kosher salt

1 cup EACH crumbled feta cheese and chopped cilantro

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup honey

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Trim carrot greens to about two inches, then scrub or peel carrots and heap in 2 rimmed baking sheets. Mix rum, maple syrup, and oil and pour over the carrots. Mix cayenne, cumin, and 1 tbs. salt, sprinkle over carrots, and turn them with your hands so everything gets distributed. Divide among 4 rimmed baking sheets in a single layer.

Roast carrots (in two batches if you have one oven) until thoroughly tender and browned, 45 to 50 minutes depending on how big they are. Roll them over halfway through to brown evenly. If the pan starts getting dry, splash in 1/4 to 1/2 cup water.

Heap a layer of carrots on a rimmed serving platter. Scatter half of feta over them, then half of cilantro. Add the remaining carrots, then drizzle with juices from the pan. Mix lemon, honey, and salt to taste and drizzle that on too. Sprinkle with the rest of the feta and cilantro. Makes 50.
To make ahead: Roast the carrots, up to 1 day, and chill (bring them to room temperature before serving), or a few hours ahead and keep at room temperature. Arrange on a platter with toppings shortly before serving.

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