What’s in a name? I have been pondering how to share this recipe for some time now. It’s a classic I’ve enjoyed my whole life that I’ve always known as carrot pudding. But I worried that might be a bit misleading. You see, I want people to be intrigued, and to try this recipe, because it is so worth it. Carrot casserole sounds so boring. I considered calling it a soufflé, but that is a bit grand for this humble dish. So I stuck with pudding. This is not creamy, cold pudding like the chocolate dessert of childhood. It’s from a class of Southern traditional dishes, a simple, baked, comforting, homey dish. I have a repertoire of these puddings. Corn pudding and chicken pudding and tomato pudding, all savory and all delicious.
But this dish walks the fine line between savory and sweet. It is usually served as a side dish for a rich meat like pork chops or loin, but I have often had it served as a light luncheon dish for bridal or baby showers. It is a feature in many of the local community cookbooks around here, and was a regular feature of a certain local caterer for many years. I have jumped off from those recipes, jazzing things up with a fresh grating of orange zest to add brightness and fresh ginger for zing. Most recipes I’ve read simply call for “mashed carrots,” and many cooks just boil the carrots and mash them. But I like to roast them in a little butter to really bring out the carrot flavor and natural sweetness, and I finish in the food processor to speed things up.
2 pounds carrots, peeled (2 yield 2 cups, mashed)
2 Tablespoons plus ½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
Grated zest of one medium orange
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cloves
Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 2-quart baking dish.
Cut the carrot into equally sized chunks, and toss with the 2 Tablespoons melted butter on a large rimmed baking tray. You just want the carrots slightly lubricated, not greasy or swimming in butter. Roast the carrots for 30 – 40 minutes, until they are soft, but do not let them brown.
Dump the carrots into the bowl of a food processor and process until you have a rough puree. You may need to start with half the carrots, then add the rest. You want to end up with 2 heaping cups of puree. Leave the puree to cool.
Grate the orange zest and ginger into the carrot puree and blend. Add the remaining ½ cup melted butter and the rest of the ingredients, and process until smooth and creamy. Scrape the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
Bake the carrot pudding until firm in the middle and slightly browned around the edges, about 30 – 40 minutes. Serve immediately. Leftovers can be reheated in the microwave.
Serves 6 – 8