Use a clean scourer to smooth the carrots and remove any peel marks (optional).
In a pan combine 400ml/14fl oz of water, the butter, sugar, salt and star anise. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and add the carrots. Cook until the carrots are tender (approximately 45 minutes) and the volume of liquid has reduced by half.
Serve the carrots as a side dish with the reduced cooking liquid poured over.
The carrots can be cooked in advance and quickly reheated in the cooking liquor just before serving.