Thursday, February 10, 2011

Only 39 Days 'Til Spring (or Three Cheers for Brussels Sprouts!)

They say February is truly the longest month.  And if you live in the Northeast it feels like it has been February for at least 6 months.  If I have to wear my big black down coat paired with my oh-so-fashionable (read: ugly, practical and warm) hat one more day I think I'll cry.

And it isn't just the weather that gets me down.  I'm longing for more variety in what there is to eat.  We attempt to eat as seasonally and as locally as possible but in February, in New York, that doesn't leave many options.  Week after week I slog through the usual (meager) offerings at the Farmer's market and try to muster up some enthusiasm for sweet potatoes, potatoes, cabbage, onions, and all of their sturdy winter companions.  Thoughts of asparagus, tomatoes, baby lettuces, stone fruits, tender peas and all the trappings of spring and summer just make me resent winter all the more. 

But, wait.  What's that over there? In the corner?  Why, it's Brussels sprouts.  Hallelujah. 

No. I haven't gone crazy (yet).  I love Brussels sprouts.  My husband loves Brussels sprouts.  Better yet, my child loves Brussels sprouts.  Before you accuse me of being smug you should know that getting the two of them to even *try* this dish, let alone fight over the seconds, was an uphill battle.
My husband was traumatized by memories of the soggy, gray-ish over cooked sprouts of his youth.  The child took one look at me preparing them and declared them "yucky." But then I roasted them and they came out of the oven slightly crunchy, a little salty, barely sweet and in no way "yucky."

Now when she hears we're having Brussels sprouts with dinner my daughter is known to shout "three cheers for Brussels sprouts!"  Hopefully you'll make a convert out of somebody too.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Yields 4 servings as a side dish

Trust me on this one.  Brussels sprouts transform when they are roasted.  The outer leaves become crunchy, slightly salty bits reminiscent of well done french fries.  The main part of the flesh becomes sweeter by releasing the natural sugars contained inside and bears no resemblance to the bland, stinky sprouts we all remember from our collective youth.  Drizzled with some good olive oil, tossed with some coarse Kosher salt and a grind or 2 of fresh black pepper and I dare you not to eat the whole recipe's worth yourself.

  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed with any damaged leaves removed (If they are small you can just wash them and trim the ends.  I like to cut them in half to have a nice flat surface which will caramelize when in contact with the hot pan.  I also like that cutting them makes a few of the outer leaves fall off - they become delicious, crispy bites.)
  • 1-2 TBS good quality olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Wash and dry the Brussels sprouts.  You want them to be dry because any moisture will inhibit caramelization.
  3. Either in a bowl, or directly on your baking sheet (why dirty something else you'll just have to wash) toss the Brussels sprouts with the olive oil, salt and pepper.
  4. Distribute them evenly on the pan being careful to leave some room between them so the air can circulate.  If you did cut them in half start cooking them with the flat side down.
  5. Roast for 35-40 minutes until crispy on the outside but soft on the inside.  About halfway through you might want to shake the pan or turn them over a few times to ensure even cooking.
  6. Adjust seasoning and add salt or pepper to your taste.
  7. Fight off guests and family members for the crunchy outer leaves that fell off during the cooking process.
  8. Best if served immediately but I also like them cold.

1 comment:

Alex said...

Sounds good! Will have to try.