Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Brussels Sprouts Rock!






What’s happened to Brussels sprouts to make them so delicious? Those nasty, foul smelling, evil tasting little pseudo-cabbages of my childhood have been replaced by tasty morsels of pure delight. No really, they’re becoming my favorite Fall vegetable, right up there with kale, peppers and sweet corn.

I’m not alone in my enthusiasm, SeriousEats named Brussels sprouts their “2009 ingredient of the year”.  FraternityKitchen noted their surprising popularity as a stealth veggie this week. I have yet to follow the lead of adventurous chefs and foodies who put these little darlings on pizza, though that might be an interesting experiment. No, I enjoy sprouts as a side dish extraordinaire. Oven roasting is my favorite cooking method, requiring minimal effort and producing maximum flavor. It's always a bonus if there are leftover sprouts for me to enjoy for lunch the next day, or as a snack anytime.

I had a moment of potluck panic in September, and roasted Brussels sprouts came to the rescue. Lagoon Cove Marina hosts an afternoon Happy Hour during the cruising season. They serve prawns and everyone else brings an appetizer to share. Every afternoon… except when it’s different, like a special evening when there’s a dinner potluck. Drat! I was ready for appetizers, but it had been almost two weeks since a grocery store visit. The boat pantry didn’t have enough of any single item to feed a crowd. It was an uneasy feeling, offering Brussels sprouts to a crowd of strangers, uncertain if anyone else would enjoy them. Not to worry, my baking dish was empty long before most of the other sides and salads were finished. Who would have guessed that Brussels sprouts were so popular?! Or do you think it was the bacon?


We enjoyed this dish again last week when Graham joined us for dinner. This time I checked in advance, did he like Brussels sprouts? He reminded me that they had always been his favorite vegetable and I was the one who was the reluctant eater. Well not anymore, oven-roasted Brussels sprouts now top my delicious veggie list.



Oven-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Potatoes and Bacon
Adapted from The Best of Fine Cooking: Side Dish 2007

1 to 1 1/2 Lb small Brussels sprouts
1 to 1 1/2 Lb small red potatoes
6 medium shallots, or a handful of tiny red onions, peeled
3 or 4 slices thick, smoky bacon
3 Tb olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 Tb butter, melted
2 Tb lemon juice (balsamic vinegar could substitute, but would change the flavor )
zest of 1 small lemon

  1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
  2. Wash the Brussels sprouts, trim the bottoms and remove the outer leaves. For tiny sprouts, cut an X in the stem to facilitate even cooking; for larger sprouts, cut in half from top to bottom.
  3. Wash the potatoes and cut into chunks about the size of the sprouts. (I sliced the tiny taters in half and chopped the slightly larger ones into quarters.)
  4. Cut the shallots into quarters (or the red onions in half).
  5. Slice the strips of bacon crosswise into 1/2-inch chunks.
  6. Pile the sprouts, potatoes, shallots and bacon into a large bowl; splash on the olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss until everything is well coated. Pour into a 10x15 Pyrex baking dish and place in a preheated 450 F oven. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so, until the sprouts are browned and the potatoes are tender.
  7. While the vegetables are roasting, melt the butter and add the lemon juice and zest.
  8. Remove from the oven and pour the lemon and butter mixture over the top. Toss well and serve immediately.
Note: in an emergency, bags of frozen baby sprouts are a reasonable substitution. They do add more liquid to the dish, which can inhibit browning. It would help to slightly precook the bacon and potatoes to help them crisp up a bit more, without the risk of overcooking the Brussels sprouts. 

4 comments:

  1. Nothing beats oven-roasted brussels sprouts. Love your additions of the bacon and potatoes.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'll have to try this out with lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. Thanks!

    Hope you're doing better!

    ReplyDelete

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