There’s no better way to cook vegetables than roasting. (It is known.) Roasted potatoes, carrots, Brussels sprouts and all other types of plants are good with a little oil and salt and pepper, but to get a heartier, more complex flavour, I like to add a little Better Than Bouillon (BTB).
Editor’s note: Better Than Bouillon isn’t commonly found in Australia, though it can be bought online. A regular powdered stock will do the trick – just adjust the amount for taste.
Some of you may think of using BTB as “cheating,” but I’d like to remind you that feeding yourself isn’t a test, no one is grading you, and BTB is delicious. The salty, tar-like paste is basically concentrated flavour, made with meat and/or vegetables, and hydrolysed vegetable or soy protein, which brings an amount of umami similar to MSG. When mixed with fat and smeared onto vegetables, it creates a very flavorful crust, while cutting your ingredient count down to three.
There are a lot of flavours to choose from, and I urge you to be creative. It might be tempting to pair like with like, and coat vegetables with the vegetable base, but try to push your boundaries here. I like the ham base with carrots, the lobster base with white mushrooms, and the beef base with russet potatoes. (Use beef tallow for extra beefiness.)
Better Than Bouillon is a very concentrated ingredient, and too much will make your food taste overpoweringly salty. A ratio of two teaspoons for every pound of vegetables adds a good amount of savoury flavour without stealing focus. In terms of fat, use something solid, like tallow, duck fat, or lard, as BTB separates out of liquid fats very quickly, and it slides off vegetables before they get to the oven. But working the concentrate into a paste with a solid fat keeps it suspended while the vegetables are coated, resulting in an evenly flavored, crisp crust. To make these super savoury vegetables, you will need.
500 grams of vegetables
1 tablespoon of fat, such as tallow, duck fat, schmaltz, or lard
2 teaspoons of Better Than Bouillon (or your choice of powdered stock), any flavour
Preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celcius. Prepare your vegetables by chopping of peeling them as needed, and set them in a bowl or container with a lid. Using a fork, mash 2 teaspoons of Better Than Bouillon into 1 tablespoon of fat to create a paste that is uniform in colour. Dollop the fat onto the vegetables, close the lid, and shake the container to evenly coat the vegetables. Place them in a prepared roasting pan and cook until they are tender on the insides and crisp on the outside, stirring every once in a while to make sure all sides get an even amount of heat. Consult this post for approximate cooking times. Serve immediately.