Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Everyone's Favorite Food: Brussels Sprouts

Recipes: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Olive Oil and Garlic

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Sunchokes and Citrus Brown Butter with Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Yesterday at work I had to clean around 20 pounds of Brussels sprouts. (Side note: I love how "Brussels spouts" is written out. What other vegetable conjures up images of old world Europe, just in it's name? Nerd alert....) Cleaning 20 pounds of Brussels sprouts took about an hour, which gave me plenty of time to contemplate why people hate them so much. How exactly did Brussels sprouts get such a bad rap?

I first had a Brussels sprout was last year. Yes, I had made it through twenty-something years of life before a Brussels sprout had grazed past my lips. The real hater in my life is my fifty-something year old mother, who had such a bad experience with the sprouts when she was younger that she forever banned them from her adult life. Now her mother, my grandmother, was a notoriously bad cook. She botched every dish that touched her stove, allegedly. So its no wonder that her Brussels sprouts dishes were poorly executed. But, how bad could it be? Well, my mom gets a little queasy even at the thought of Brussels sprouts.

So, what a surprise when I liked my first Brussels sprout. No I didn't just like it. I LOVED it. I couldn't believe that all the bad things my mom had said about them were true. Not even my mom, but most of popular culture had given the Brussels sprout a bad name. They were crunchy and flavorful, fresh and nutty, and I loved how they look like mini cabbages. When I came home to visit shortly afterwords, I was armed with a bag full of Brussels sprouts aimed at changing my mom's opinion on the whole issue. She responded to my plea with a slightly green face and a firm shake of the head "no." Her fear of this inoffensive vegetable ran too deep.

There are a ton of cool things about Brussels sprouts. Here is a list I made:
1. They look like MINI CABBAGES. No way could you fit a whole regular sized cabbage in your mouth, but you can do it now.
2. They are delicious with bacon. (Wait did I say that? Wait is this blog called "Bacon NO MORE?" well shit.) They are delicious with organic, free range, grass-fed, farmer killed bacon, then.
3. They reduce the risk of cancer! Also, they have a high amount of vitamin K, C and lots of A, potassium (that that Bananas!), and some other vitamins and minerals that I don't really know what they are, but sound healthy.
4. They are filling. Its sort of like the Willy Wonka version of a vegetable. Because its a mini cabbage, its like a full meal packed in a bite-sized package. Kind of.

I think the reason that so many people have had such bad experiences with Brussels sprouts is that whoever cooked them (namely mothers everywhere) didn't do it properly. Brussels sprouts can be really bad if they are bland, undercooked, or both. The best way to extract flavor is by roasting or caramelizing the sprouts. This will bring out the nutty flavor. Just blanching the sprouts alone leaves you with a bland boring dish, but roasting will crisp the outside and give you better texture and flavor.

Here are two different ways of preparing Brussels sprouts (without bacon, wah wah). The first recipe can be used as a side dish to other entrees, and the second is meant as a complete meal.

1 pound Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and halved
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
2. Blanch Brussel sprouts in pot of water for 2 to 3 minutes or until par cooked. Remove and shock in ice water.
3. Toss Brussels sprouts in olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Spread evenly on a sheet pan and roast in oven for 8 to 10 minutes more until edges have browned and the Brussels sprouts are cooked fully. They should be tender yet with a little bite.

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Sunchokes and Citrus Brown Butter with Mashed Sweet Potatoes

1 pound Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and halved
1 pound sunchokes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces (stored in acidulated water until ready to cook)
1 onion, julienned
1/2 stick of butter, cut into pieces
1 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
For Mashed Sweet Potatoes:
2 sweet potatoes
1/4 cup of skim milk
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the Brussels sprouts next for another 2 minutes, remove and shock in ice water. Place sunchokes in preheated oven and roast for 10 to 15 minutes or until cooked fully.
2. Caramelize onions over medium-high heat. Remove from pan and caramelize Brussels Sprouts in same pan. Turn off heat and add onions and cooked sunchokes to pan.
3. To make sauce, brown butter in a frying pan over medium high heat. Once the milk solids have browned and the butter has a nutty aroma remove from heat and strain. Squeeze fresh lemon juice into butter and season with a little salt and pepper. Toss sauce over Brussels sprout mixture. Add parsley and adjust seasoning.

For the sweet potatoes:
1. Cook sweet potatoes whole in 400 oven until fork tender.
2. While the potatoes are cooking bring butter, milk, cayenne and ginger to a boil.
3. Remove potatoes from the oven and peel. Mash with a fork and mix with milk mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

No comments:

Post a Comment