When we first saw this recipe, we were skeptical; supposedly a few flavorings and a bit of baking would make carrots taste like bacon. In fact, the recipe in Bacon-ish, by Leinana Two Moons, was titled “Carrot Bacon,” which we changed to Crispy Smoky Salty Carrot Strips. Why? Well, let’s face it, carrots will not taste like bacon, and they’ll surely not fool anyone into thinking they are eating bacon, and that’s just fine. Why should they? Why can’t this recipe be just a new way to enjoy carrots? A way that’s crispy, smoky, and salty? We thought so. So we figured we’d give the recipe a whirl and pass it by our Scratchin’ It taste-testing panel for critique. What do we have to lose? It’s just a carrot, right?
For our initial test, we scaled back the recipe, changed the ingredients just slightly (adding liquid smoke in place of smoked salt), and modified the technique somewhat to make it easier for us to make. But, it’s mostly the same.
You can buy liquid smoke in the spice aisle at your supermarket; it’s great for adding a nice smoky flavoring to dishes. We use it all the time. Smoked paprika is expensive, and, for a long time, we didn’t buy it. Once we did, we were hooked. It adds such a great flavor to nearly any dish, we won’t do without. We do buy it from Penzey’s spices — great prices and a great selection. For fine sea salt, we place sea salt in our spice grinder and grind away. A minute or two later, we have very fine salt that’s perfect for popcorn.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment to make for easy clean-up.
Slice carrots. We think you want to slice the carrots nice and thin. Very thin. We think the easiest way to do that is to use a vegetable peeler and peel off thin strips of carrot. Simply place the carrot on a cutting board and peel off strips about 3 inches long. Once you have the slices, place them on the prepared baking sheet. You can place them very close together, as they shrink, but don’t overlap.
Mix spices. In a small bowl or, preferably, in a measuring cup with a pour spout, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Keep whisking until you have a smooth, thick emulsion, about 1 minute.
Drizzle. Pour the mixture over the carrot strips. Don’t worry about completely covering the strips. As they bake, they’ll release liquid that’ll mix in, and the spice mixture will flow over the carrot strips perfectly. You’ll see.
Bake. Slide into the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, or until browned. It’ll take more or less time depending on the thickness of the strips, and they go from perfectly baked to charred rather quickly, so check them often.
Cool. Let the carrot strips cool on the baking sheet so they crisp up nicely, before using as you would bacon.
Okay, will you think these are bacon? No, but you will think these are good. Really good. They crisp up nicely, sort of like crispy bacon, while retaining a slight “chew” in the places where the carrot was less baked. They tasted nice and smoky, nice and salty, sort of like bacon, but all around delicious. And, they were lighter than bacon, meaning we could eat all we made. We used our Crispy Smoky Salty Carrot strips on a sandwich with cheese, and just loved it. It was a great way to get a nice bacon-ish sandwich, without the bacon. Five stars.