Brussels sprouts are just weird.
I mean, they look cool. All cute and stuff- but still intimidating in their own right.
Plus they have the extra 's' on the end Brussels. It's a little vague, don't you think? Like it can't decide whether it wants to be plural or posessive. Frankly, I find the whole business kind of obnoxious and snooty. Like drinking with your pinkie finger out or something. Seriously, who wants to eat a snooty vegetable with a case of possession (or…plural?) aggression?
I tried Brussels sprouts in the past, but it was a texture thing. I seriously couldn't get over it- even though they tasted good (I'd cooked them in bacon grease, and EVERYTHING tastes good cooked in bacon grease) I was gagging.
I'd toyed with them a time or two more, fiddling with some recipes here and there, but I could never get around the texture. Until recently.
I was up in Milwaukee visiting my friend Carrie and her family, and we went for breakfast at this amazing little place that served omelets with roasted duck, Boursin cheese and shaved Brussels sprouts. I was intrigued, and gave it a try- and it was soooooooo good. And the shaved sprouts…they'd simply peeled off the leaves and sauteed them until they were bright and tender and delicious.
I knew I had found my secret to sprouts success!
See? If you take the Brussels-with-the-possessive or plural-s off, they become friendly and accessible. Sprouts sounds kinda cute, kinda fun- and frankly, more delicious.
I toyed around with some different methods after turning to my good pal Google, and found that the easiest method for 'shaving' the sprouts was to cut off the base, then use the tip of your knife to cut into the core twice, making an X at the bottom. Then just stand the sprout up, and give it a good smash the heel of your hand, like you do to a head of lettuce. The leaves then peel right off.
It's a little more time consuming to shave the sprouts, I'll admit. But putting the kids to work has it's advantages.
When we could no longer peel the leaves, I just chopped the inner core up finely and tossed it into the mix.
This is our Best Brussels Sprouts recipe. This is the recipe that had even my dad, who previously disliked sprouts for the same reason I did (that damned texture), liking them.
Like all the best recipes, it starts with bacon.
I used some ends and pieces for this- I like that I can render off plenty of fat for the Bacon Love Jar to cook with another time, and still have some bacon fat left over to cook with!
After the bacon was fully cooked, I removed it from the pan, and added the shaved sprouts. It doesn't take long to cook them…you want them slightly wilted, slightly crisp. While they will still be delicious if you go too far…
You end up with something that looks kinda mushy. Tastes delicious, but not so pleasing to the eye.
I like to caramelize my sprouts just a little bit, and then add about 1/4 cup of a good wine and steam them for a few minutes.
There. Just about perfect. See how bright green they get? So pretty! You want to remove them from heat sooner than you think- the residual heat in the pan really softens them up unless you are serving immediately. And by immediately, I mean dumping the other stuff in and tossing it and standing around the stove eating right out of the pan.
It may or may not have happened here.
Once the shaved sprouts are safely off the heat, I use my microplane and shave a garlic clove over the top, add a teaspoon of stone ground mustard, then sprinkle on some parmesan and toss the bacon pieces (that I chopped up into small bits) into it all. I give it a quick stir and get it to the serving dish.
And the best part….
wait for it…
…a good spoonful of creamy Boursin cheese right on the top of them, so it can melt down into deliciousness.
Om nom nom!
Best Brussels Sprouts
1/2 lb bacon ends and pieces
about 20 Brussels Sprouts
1/2 cup good drinking wine (not too sweet!)
2 oz good parmesan cheese, shaved
1 teaspoon stone-ground mustard
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper, to taste
Remove the loose leaves and the bottoms of your sprouts. Score the bottom of each sprout along the core, and smash them a bit between the heel of your hand and the cutting board to loosen the leaves.
Peel the leaves off, and finely chop the inner cores of the sprouts and set aside.
In a large skillet, render your bacon ends and pieces over medium-low heat and cook until the bacon is crisp.
Remove bacon pieces and set aside; drain all but about 2 tablespoons of bacon fat.
Return pan to heat, and raise temperature to medium high.
Add sprouts to pan, and toss to coat with the bacon fat, then let cook until the edges of the leaves begin to caramelize slightly.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper, add 1/2 cup wine and put the lid on immediately. Let steam for 2-3 minutes.
Remove lid and remove pan from heat.
Microplane one clove of garlic over sprouts. Add mustard and bacon and toss.
Shave parmesan over the top of the sprouts and serve immediately with Boursin cheese.