Monday, November 22, 2010

Hot and sweet brussel sprouts

Here's what I would make for everyone on Thanksgiving this year, if I was going to be cooking at home instead of hanging out in New Jersey. These are highly untraditional brussel sprouts--hot and sweet, just like the name says. And they are so so good...the peppers bring a fruity heat that loves the warm maple nuttiness on the sprouts, plus a crispy shallot topping. They might freak Grandma out a little, but they're perfect if you need something to spice up a stale holiday routine. Here's what you'll need for the pepper mixture: two chilies (I used a habanero and something that looked like a jalapeno but was smaller), 2 big shallots and 2 cloves garlic. De-seed and mince the peppers. You can leave some seeds in if you are super hardcore. I like heat but I thought using just the pepper flesh packed enough for me. And a cautionary note: do not go poking at your eyeballs after you handle the peppers! You will mildly pepper spray yourself and it will hurt. I do this pretty much every single time I de-seed peppers, by the way. Slice half of one shallot into thin rings and set aside. You can buy a whole extra shallot just for the topping if you want--it is really yummy and you might want more of it. Mince the rest of the shallots and all the garlic too and put the peppers, shallot (not including the reserved slices) and garlic all in a mortar to pound into a paste. You can use the food processor for this too, it would work really well. Or just mash it all together in a bowl. Find your reserved thin slices of shallot...And fry them in a little bit of olive oil or butter until they crisp up. This will only take about 1 minute, tops, so get the oil pretty hot, dump in the slices, stir them around a couple times and then as soon as they start going brown, just fish them out.And drain on paper towels. They'll get all crispy and yummy. Yes, you should definitely make more than this, so slice up a whole shallot. I don't know what I was thinking. Meanwhile! You have 1 pound of brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved. Just waiting there for you. Melt 2 tablespoons of bacon fat over medium high heat (or use a mixture of olive oil and butter, if you prefer). Put your sprouts in, cut side down, and sprinkle them with a teaspoon of sugar, and a pinch of salt. Let them get good and browned, and stir occasionally--this will take about 5 minutes. They should be crisped on the outside but still not done all the way through. You're going to cook them some more in a minute, so it's OK. Pull them off the pan and set them aside for now. Here's the paste of peppers-shallots-garlic that we made earlier. It actually makes way more than you'll need, so put the rest in a little jar and save for later (I actually added some vinegar to my leftovers to see if I could make a spicy sauce. I'll report back). Scoop out 1-2 tablespoons of the pepper mixture and fry over medium heat in the same hot pan that the brussel sprouts were just in. I say "1-2 tablespoons" because only you can know how spicy hot you like your side dishes to be. I like it hot, so I go more towards the 2 tablespoons, personally. Add your sprouts back in plus a little less than 1/2 cup chicken stock.
And drizzle at least 1 tablespoon maple syrup into the pan as well. Bring it all to a boil, then turn down the heat a bit so the liquid simmers into a thick glaze and the brussel sprouts finish cooking through. This will take about 3-5 minutes. Spoon the sprouts out into a pretty bowl and top them with the crispy shallots. Wonderful. Happy thanksgiving, wherever you may be!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Farmer Debra Jo says to cut Xs in the halved brussels sprouts to get them to cook more evenly. I've never tried, though, as that's too much work for me. I'd rather eat them. ALL.