After the holidays I was planning on leaving our Christmas tree out on the curb for the city to collect and turn into mulch. It's a nice way of making our lovely trees last a little longer and much less depressing than just watching them get sent to the dump. But it never occurred to me to eat my tree.
Last week in The New York Times, Rene Redzepi suggested just that. Apparently "evergreens are delicious," similar to rosemary. So I decided to give it a try!
No, Redzepi is not suggesting we plop a branch into a pot of boiling water, but you can use evergreen needles for seasoning, much like you would use rosemary. In fact, consider that tree a giant sprig of herbs.
Our tree is a balsam and spruce hybrid, and I'm glad we went for an organic one at that. I still washed the needles before using them (grubby hands grabbing the branches all week). I decided on the spruce butter, a pretty easy way to start, and cooked some (cheap, low-risk) carrots in it.
Redzepi's recipe calls for 7 tablespoons of butter -- that's a lot of butter for an experiment. I just used one stick. Unlike rosemary, the needles did not peel off the stem very easily, and their dry, brittle condition made them all the more difficult to work with, especially wet. Instead of lemon thyme I used lemon zest, which balances the spruce very well.
To give my carrots a little extra spruce flavor I steamed them with a couple of sprigs first. Then I melted about 2 tablespoons of the butter into the carrots. About five minutes of simmering in the pan infused the carrots and caramelized the butter just a little.
The result? A little soapy and astringent, but intriguing. Let me be clear about one thing.
IT DOES NOT! TASTE! LIKE ROSEMARY! At all.
I don't know that this is the best seasoning for carrots, but I'll be trying it with steak and I think it would really sing with rich game meats like duck and venison.
What do you think? Are you adventurous enough to eat your Christmas tree?
Image via Adriana Velez