Glazed vegetables are simply too good to make once or twice a year at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Glazing not only gives vegetables a jewel-like sheen but also concentrates their flavor. Another plus: glazed vegetables go well with all kinds of main courses, from a whole beef tenderloin to roast goose. You can serve them on their own in a bowl, but I think they look smashing arranged on a platter with the roast.
Glazing means to cook a vegetable in a small amount of liquid, such as water or broth, with some butter and sugar in a partially covered pan. As the vegetable cooks, it releases its own savory juices into the liquid in the pan. Those juices become concentrated and turn into a light natural syrup as the vegetable cooks. By the time the vegetable is tender, the liquid is almost all gone and the vegetable is coated with a shiny, savory glaze that captures the vegetable’s sweet essence. Two kinds of glazing: white and brown. The two kinds of glazing are determined by how long the vegetable is cooked. A white-glazed vegetable is cooked only long enough for the liquid to evaporate and glaze the vegetable lightly. For a brown glaze, the vegetable is cooked a little longer—often uncovered—until the glaze on the bottom of the pan lightly caramelizes and browns. A small amount of water or broth is then added to dissolve the caramelized juices so that they’ll coat the vegetable. (A little cream added at this stage is also delicious.)
Two kinds of glazing: white and brown. The two kinds of glazing are determined by how long the vegetable is cooked. A white- glazed vegetable is cooked only long enough for the liquid to evaporate and glaze the vegetable lightly. For a brown glaze, the vegetable is cooked a little longer—often uncovered—until the glaze on the bottom of the pan lightly caramelizes and browns. A small amount of water or broth is then added to dissolve the caramelized juices so that they’ll coat the vegetable. (A little cream added at this stage is also delicious.)
Pay attention to heat and timing
For the most even cooking, glaze the vegetable in a pan wide enough to accommodate the pieces in a single layer. I usually add 1 or 2 tablespoons butter and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sugar per pound of vegetable, and then I season lightly with salt and pepper. I add enough liquid to come about halfway up the sides of the pieces. Partially covering the vegetable for most of the cooking keeps it moist and retains flavor. You can use the pan’s lid, slightly askew, or cut a round of kitchen parchment to fit just inside the pan.
Glazing is fairly straightforward, but the variables involved—the type and size of vegetable, the size of the pan, the amount of liquid, and the-temperature—mean you have to be ready to do some tweaking as the vegetable cooks. Simmer the vegetable gently. If the heat is too high, the liquid will evaporate before the vegetable is tender. This isn’t a problem as long as you’re paying attention—simply add more liquid when needed. On the other hand, if the heat is too low, the vegetable will overcook before the liquid cooks down to a sumptuous glaze. If the vegetable is tender but there’s a lot of liquid left in the pan, turn up-the heat and remove the cover to boil away the liquid.
Start checking for doneness after about 15 minutes, depending on the vegetable. It’s done when all the liquid has evaporated, or, in the case of brown glazing, a brown glaze forms on the bottom of the pan. When done to your liking, add a tablespoon of water to the pan and swirl the vegetable pieces around until they’re coated with a shiny glaze. A sprinkling of finely chopped herbs, such as parsley, basil, mint, or chervil, will give the vegetable a bit of color and a fresh flavor.
Glazed vegetables need a little sugar, butter, liquid, and time
Cut large vegetables into chunks or wedges and arrange in a sauté pan just large enough to hold the pieces in a single layer. Add a few pats of butter and a sprinkling of sugar.
Add enough liquid to come halfway up the sides of the pieces. Water alone is good, or use half water and half broth for a fuller flavor. A little wine or sherry added near the end boosts flavor.
Cover the vegetable pieces with a round of parchment (or a pot lid askew), bring the liquid to a high simmer, and then lower the heat and simmer gently.
Start testing after 15 minutes. A knife should penetrate easily with just some slight resistance. Adjust the liquid level depending on doneness.