Friday, March 10, 2006

Britain's Most Hated Vegetable???

Well, maybe not anymore, but apparently my beloved Brussels sprouts were voted so in 2002. Now they've moved up the veggie ladder to become the 5th most loved vegetable in the U.K. Not bad over the course of three years, eh?

Note: for this and other interesting tidbits on Brussels sprouts (including the correct spelling which does indeed have an "s" at the end of Brussels which I did not know!) go to Wikipedia.

I must admit, I didn't grow up liking these mini cabbages much myself. I wasn't a huge fan of spinach either but that is because some of the first spinach I ate in the U.S. came in a can. Ugh, ew, yeecch, barg, yada! Some things just shouldn't exist, and canned spinach is one of them. Anyway, I'm sure a lot of people hate certain foods because they are poorly packaged or prepared. Then, one miraculous day when that hated food is prepared properly or in some new, delicious way, it's like the gates of heaven open up and a bright light shines upon your taste buds. "Whoa!" you think to yourself as your mouth's one-time nemesis suddenly becomes its soul mate. That's kind of how I feel about Brussels sprouts.

My first really great experience came at Campanile when my husband and I sat at their beautiful bar, had a few glasses of wine and noshed on a cheese plate and a side order of balsamic glazed Brussels sprouts. One bite of the slightly sticky-glazed sprout and we were in love. They were rich and sweet, slightly nutty (I know I know, over used food term but it's true!) and tasted nothing like the watery, bitter and undercooked Brussels sprouts of my youth. We must have been quite loud voicing our surprise at how great they were because the chef, Mark Peel, came out of the kitchen and said "Good, aren't they? But boy- will you be tootin' later." Don't you love it when a chef makes a fart comment?

Anyway, onto the sprouts. After that day, I would order Brussels sprouts in restaurants and learned that they are a magnificent vegetable when caramelized. So I experimented a few times and have come up with a really easy version that, as you can tell by my blog, we eat often. I promise I'll stop blogging about them all the time!

Carmelized balsamic Brussels sprouts

1 TBS butter
1 tsp olive oil
2 shallots, sliced thin
20 small Brussels sprouts
splash of good balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper

Pull tough outer leaves off of the Brussels sprouts and cut each in half lengthwise. Steam them for about 5 minutes, set aside.

In a large, preferably NOT non-stick (non-stick pans won't result in good carmelization) melt the butter and olive oil together. Add shallots and sauté until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the steamed Brussels sprouts, toss well and season with salt and pepper. Once the moisture from the vegetables have evaporated, let them sit in the pan on the heat for a minute, then stir. Repeat a couple of times until you see the Brussels sprouts start to brown. Add a splash (roughly 1-2 TBS) of balsamic vinegar and toss well. The vinegar will start to reduce almost immediately.

Serve while hot!

A good variation on this is to start by rendering some chopped bacon or pancetta in the pan and then using that fat instead of butter/oil to sauté the shallots and Brussels sprouts in. The saltiness of the pancetta goes well with the sweet balsamic. You can also toss in some mushrooms (like I did below), use red onions instead of the shallots or even add a bit of chopped garlic for extra flavor.

We had this with Pan Seared Chicken with Red Wine Reduction and an herb salad for dinner the other night.

Chicken seared, ready to be sauced!


Pan Seared Chicken with Red Wine Reduction w/ Caramelized Balsamic Brussels Sprouts



carlyn said...


kaicito said...

hmmmm... count me with the brussels sprout lovers... and that love will deepen, i'm sure, when i try out that recipe :)

ps: love your blog!

BitterBoy said...

I am a closeted Brussels Sprouts fan and I would love to try your recipe. Your food looks AMAZING!

Good spelling tip on "Brussels" as well...

Happy Eating!

Tokyoastrogirl said...

Carlyn, Kaicito & Bitterboy,

Thanks so much for your nice comments. I now love brussels sprouts too- I heard they are really great shredded like coleslaw so I may try that next!

kaicito said...

shredded sounds good and pretty similar to pureed, which is also very nice...just add a little nutmeg and pepper and sour cream