Category Archives: Brussels Sprouts

Sharing the spotlight.

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Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

Not only have Brussels sprouts become the trendiest member of the Brassica family, but they have been pigeonholed for caramelization. No one wants to hear about a Brussels sprout today unless it’s roasted, flash fried, or sautéed in bacon fat…

…sorry, the thought of caramelized Brussels sprouts with salty, sweet, fatty bacon is so mesmerizing, I forgot what I was saying. I may actually have forgotten my name.

But it gets me thinking, “How do the other Brussels sprouts feel?” Can I create an equally tempting, saliva-inducing dish with no caramelization what so ever? Some quick reading on other flavors with a strong affiliation for Brussels sprouts offers clear direction. Strong bleu cheese and sharp mustard pair with shallot and vinegar, all folded into farm-fresh butter. Melting over briefly boiled Brussels sprouts, the dish is as tempting as any caramelized concoction.

These sprouts may not displace their sugary cousins, but they will certainly earn equal billing.

Blue Cheese and Mustard Buttered Brussels Sprouts

Serves 6

Use any leftover bleu cheese, mustard butter for steaks, chicken, green beans, cauliflower, squash, crusty Sourdough bread…

Ingredients:

  • 1-1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
  • 1/2 pound butter, softened
  • 4 ounces sharp bleu cheese, softened
  • 2 tbs grainy mustard
  • 1 shallot, finely minced
  • 2 tbs minced parsley
  • Cava Rosé vinegar or other red wine vinegar

*Sapore’s Cava Rosé won me over instantly this summer. It is refined, offering the depth and complexity of a high-quality red wine vinegar, but far less bold, a perfect match for summer vegetables and to add just the right bright, bite to this compound butter. 

Directions:

  • Trim bases of Brussels sprouts, cut in half and remove any loose or discolored leaves.
  • Bring a 4 quart pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Blend together butter, bleu cheese, mustard, shallot and parsley using a spatula or food processor.
  • Blend in 1/2 tsp Cava Rosé vinegar, a few drops at a time. Season to taste with salt, pepper and more vinegar as needed.
  • Add Brussels sprouts to the boiling water. Cook until just crisp-tender. The core should still be very firm.
  • Remove Brussels sprouts from water and toss with 3-4 tbs butter.
  • Roll remaining butter in parchment or plastic wrap and freeze.
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In a pinch.

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It’s Thanksgiving and I’ve opened up the “help line” on my Facebook page. Someone posted “I told a woman in Whole Foods yesterday to check out your blog for the Caramelized Brussels Sprouts recipe. It’s so simple.”

It is, and here’s the recipe. In fact I just finished halving the blanched Brussels sprouts. We’ll be serving these on our table today. Happy Thanksgiving!

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups Brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 leek, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tbs Fig Balsamic vinegar, or another good, aged balsamic

Directions:

  • Boil a large pot of water, add 1 tbs salt and Brussels sprouts. Cook 1 minute. They will still be crisp. Remove to ice bath, cool, drain and dry. Cut in half.
  • Warm oil over medium-low heat in a 12” skillet. Add onion and leek and sauté until softened.
  • Add blanched Brussels sprouts and cook over medium-low heat until brussels sprouts turn brown and caramelize, 20-30 minutes.
  • Season to taste with salt, pepper and Fig Balsamic vinegar.

Richer for it.

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Photography by Sam Armocido

I recently asked the question, “should I use bacon fat?” It was largely rhetorical.

My husband Jason, our friend Sam and I were in the test kitchen working on a recipe for a Brussels sprout slaw. Inspiration had come in the form of Sapore Oil and Vinegar‘s new Harvest Apple vinegar. Expecting apple pie in a bottle, my nose was greeted with something closer to Worcestershire sauce. Though not as savory, the vinegar sang a siren song of Brussels sprouts, sharp, grainy mustard and bacon. It was a song we had heard before.

Around this time last year we answered a similar call. Blanched, shaved sprouts were dressed in a bacon fat, mustard, sherry vinaigrette. This time the results were different. Maybe it was the lower acidity of the Harvest Apple vinegar, or maybe it was the rich, sweet and sour sweet potatoes we had just eaten, but tasted side-by-side, we preferred a light, grassy olive oil over rich, salty bacon fat.

Are we retiring last fall’s bacon fat version? No, with a crisp loaf of bread or a savory celery root soup, the bacon fat version is still our choice. However, sitting amidst a table loaded with stuffing, potatoes, turkey and gravy, the light, bright, more acidic version is a welcome island amidst the starch.

Brussels Sprout Apple-Mustard Slaw

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups Brussels sprouts, bottoms trimmed and halved

For dressing:

  • 1/2 cup diced Pancetta
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/3 cup Autumn Apple Vinegar*
  • 2 tbs sharp, grainy mustard
  • 1/2 cup Frantoio Olive Oil*

*It’s the holidays – treat yourself, and order a couple bottles online at Sapore Oil and Vinegar. If you need a substitute for the Autumn Apple Vinegar, combine 4 tbs Sherry vinegar with 2 tbs cider or apple juice. Frantoio is a light, grassy olive oil. you can sub any good quality oil.

Directions:

  • Blanch Brussels sprouts in salted, boiling water for 1 minute. Remove to ice bath. When cool, drain and pat dry.
  • Sauté pancetta in 1 tbs olive oil over medium heat until crispy. Remove to drain on paper towels. Reserve fat to fry just about anything.
  • Whisk together shallot, Autumn Apple Vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper to taste.
  • Thinly slice Brussels sprouts and place in a bowl with some extra room.
  • Whisk Frantoio oil into vinegar mixture. Season to taste.
  • Dress brussels sprouts with 1/2 dressing and Pancetta. Let rest 5-10 minutes and season to taste with additional dressing if needed.

Top honors.

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With all due respect to the many great chefs in DC, you can keep your Rammy’s and your James Beard Awards (but keep me in mind for the future). This past weekend, I earned top honors from a mom. She had stopped by my Eastern Market cooking demos with her young son for weeks, but this day was special. I was cooking Brussels Sprouts.

Blanching them, actually. Then slicing them thinly and tossing them in a pancetta, mustard and sherry vinaigrette.

Even among the most adventurous of the under-five-year-old dining set, these small, cabbage-y tasting treasures are rarely tolerated, mush less beloved. Saturday morning, however, this young man reached for seconds. If that wasn’t enough, his mom said, “he eats every vegetable you cook. You can’t seem to go wrong. And you can share that.”

So I am. I’m glowing with pride. And to prove that I have a heart, I’ll be serving him pumpkin pancakes next Saturday. He’s earned it.

Brussels Sprout Slaw

Ingredients:
• 1 pound Brussels sprouts
• 1/8 pound pancetta, diced
• 1/4 cup Sherry vinegar
• 1 tbs whole grain mustard

*1 pound of Brussels Sprouts is about 4 cups, I usually go for about a handfull per serving.

Directions:
• Blanch Brussels sprouts in salted boiling water until bright green but still crisp. Shock in ice water and dry.
• Thinly slice sprouts lengthwise (from tip to base)
• Sauté pancetta over medium low heat to render fat, remove pancetta to paper towels to drain.
• Deglaze pan with vinegar.
• Add mustard and season to taste with pepper and salt as needed.
• Toss brussels sprouts with dressing.
• Serve with reserved pancetta.

Everything is better with pancetta. Even chocolate. It’s super-salty, fatty, Italian, un-smoked bacon. Life is better when you always keep some in your fridge.