Friday, March 16, 2012

Caramelized Brussel Sprouts

Mmmm... brussel sprouts! I don't know why, but brussel sprouts have a bad rap.
This is a real quick, down and dirty post that comes more from general knowledge than an actual formal recipe. If you know how to roast one vegetable you can roast them all. It's really more the method that counts. You can use this same recipe interchangeably for asparagus, broccoli/cauliflower, sweet potatoes, etc etc etc.

With brussel sprouts in particular, though, it's important you get them to caramelize being they're a nice hardy vegetable filled with natural sugars just ACHING to come out. When the heat evaporates enough water out of your sprouts, the natural sugars begins to rise. When those sugars are heated past a certain temperature, they brown (as you can see in the photo above) which means the sugars break down and form those complex and delicious flavors transforming a scary brussel sprout into vegetable candy.


- 1lb brussel sprouts, cleaned and trimmed
- 1-3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
- kosher/sea salt
- pepper

Rinse brussel sprouts thoroughly to get the dirt off and pull off any icky brown leaves. Trim off protruding stems and cut larger sprouts in half lengthwise (leave the tiny ones whole for even cooking) and arrange in a roasting pan (or baking dish).

Drizzle EVOO on top (enough to get good coverage so they don't dry out). Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Mix around to coat the brussel sprouts in oil mixture.

Bake at 400 degrees F for about 30-40 minutes, until caramelized and tender. Make sure you stir periodically and add more oil as needed to ensure they don't dry out or stick to the bottom and burn.

Tips for variations:
  1. Try mixing in a few cloves of chopped garlic to the pan. 
  2. Try melted coconut oil instead of olive oil.
  3. Brussel sprouts also come out delicious if you want to saute them on the stove in a good quality nonstick pan on medium-high heat. You would coat the pan generously with oil and season with salt and pepper.  Cook them babies 'til they're caramelized.
  4. Try chopping up a few strips of bacon and shallots and sauteing them in a pan to add to your sprouts (cook first the bacon, remove, then cook the shallots). You can cook the sprouts in the same pan on the stove, or roast separately in the oven. Cooking everything in the same pan will allow the sprouts to soak up that bacon flavor, though. mmmm... bacon
  5. You could braise your sprouts on the stove by sauteeing some sliced onion and garlic in a large french oven or stock pot, then adding a cup or two of beef or chicken stock, salt and pepper, and the sprouts. Simmer until soft.

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