I spent the early part of my childhood moving around from city to city: born in Oklahoma, grew up young in Arkansas, briefly settled down in Seattle and moved to Texas at the end of my 4th grade year. So it’s no surprise that I (proudly) consider myself a Texan. After all, I did spend the majority of my life living there. Enough with the history lesson however, my point is this: I’m no stranger to Mexican or Tex Mex food. In fact, I was raised on it. My mom always swore, and still does to this day, that she could eat chips and salsa and an enchilada lunch special every day of her life. I feel the same way. It’s something I could just possibly never get sick of. We must have spicy salsa running through our veins… So, with 27 years of eating Mexican food, most often on a weekly basis, it comes as a surprise, to myself and Jon, that I had never heard of Spicy Carrots- that is until I moved to Arizona.
Jon likes to eat breakfast burritos most weekends and we usually get them at cheap, shack like places titled something along the lines of “Fiesta Burrito” or “Super Burrito”- so you know they’re classy. For those in the know, they ask for a side of Spicy Carrots to go along with their egg, cheese and potato burrito. When I first moved here, Jon could see the quizzical look on my face- the one that gave away that I had never been exposed to these tangy, spicy, crunchy pickled carrots. He was in disbelief. How had I, a long time lover of Mexican food, never experienced this traditional Mexican accompaniment?
At first, the Spicy Carrots were fine. I would eat them along with my oversized burrito. I agreed that they made a nice compliment to the rich, greasy chorizo and cheese that oozed out of the crispy flour tortilla. However, I guess that now, after months of enjoying these Spicy Carrots, I finally understand what all the fuss was about. These are suddenly the first things I think about every Saturday morning. In fact, I order three bags of them to along with my burrito.
Spicy Carrots can be savored in so many other ways besides as a side to a breakfast burrito. They are perfect along side any Mexican dish really. I even like to enjoy them as a snack throughout the day. Their tanginess is refreshing and the jalapeños help to subdue my cravings for spice in a guilt-free way. They’re pickles after all! And as easy as these are to make, I guess I don’t have many reasons to make a trip to “Super Burrito” all that often anymore. Although, come Saturday morning, you’ll most likely find me in their drive thru line, patiently waiting for my three bags of Spicy Carrots.
Spicy Pickled Carrots
Recipe Adapted from Homesick Texan
1 cup water
2 tbsp canola oil
2 cups white vinegar
1/2 oz dried chiles de arbol, stems removed
2 bay leaves
3 whole cloves
3 wholes allspice berries
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp Mexican oregano
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt (plus more to taste if you prefer)
1 lb carrots, cleaned and peeled
1/2 sweet yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves
3 large jalapeños, sliced in half lengthwise
1. Using a mandolin, slice the carrots into 1/8" lengthwise slices.
*This is simply how I prefer to cut my carrots for this recipe. You can slice and dice them which ever way you like. Into coins, diagonals- whatever! It wont make any difference in this recipe, as long as the slices are relatively thin.
2. Add the water, canola oil, vinegar, chiles de arbol, bay leaves, cloves and allspice berries to a medium sized pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes, uncovered. Add the cumin, Mexican oregano, pepper and salt, stir to combine and continue to cook for 5 more minutes.
3. Add the carrots, onion, garlic and jalapeño halves and continue to simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the carrots are cooked to your desired texture. If you want them more tender, continue to cook, but if you prefer them more crunchy, take them off the heat a little sooner.
4. Let the pickled carrots cool off the heat then spoon the mixture into mason jars, recycled marinara jars or any air-tight container. Keep in the fridge until ready to eat- they will last in there for one month!
*I got the pickling jar pictured above from Sur La Table for less than $4 bucks!
Makes about 2 pints