from Fine Cooking #132, pp. 54-59
If you’re a sprout lover, dining out has never been better because chefs around the country are doing amazing things with this bold brassica. Turn the page to find recipes from four amazing restaurants. They’re easy enough to make at home, yet so good they may even sway a hater.
Fore Street – Portland, ME
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions
|Sam Hayward||Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions|
Maine’s Sam Hayward gets folks to try Brussels sprouts by tossing them with caramelized onions, ’cause who doesn’t love caramelized onions?
When did you first become a fan of Brussels sprouts?
In the late ’70s, when I finally fetched up permanently in Maine and encountered farmers and gardeners who were expertly growing them. I fell in love with them-right off the stalk, crisp, vivid green, complex, sometimes with a hint of mustard in the taste.
Why do you call Brussels sprouts Maine’s state vegetable?
Sprouts are ubiquitous in every farmers’ market in Maine. We have farmers who continue to harvest them well into November. With our cold climate, we don’t have a lot of options for local fresh green vegetables into winter.
What role do the onions play in your dish?
Caramelized onions deepen the sweetness inherent in the sprouts. The splash of vinegar that deglazes the onions balances the earthy taste of the sprouts. The onions also add moisture and act as a sauce-like element.
Trenchermen – Chicago
Chinese-Style Brussels Sprouts with Smoked Almonds, Cilantro, and Basil
|Pat Sheerin||Chinese-Style Brussels Sprouts with Smoked Almonds, Cilantro, and Basil|
When Pat Sheerin puts sprouts on his menu, folks in Chicago go crazy for them, especially for these Chinatown-inspired ones.
Do you have an early Brussels sprouts memory?
To move past the classic dirty martini, my parents put pickled Brussels sprouts in their drinks. The first time I tried one-a little bitter, salty, and sour-I was hooked.
How did you come up with this recipe?
This is straight riffing from going out to eat in Chinatown with my brother Mike. XO and fermented black beans are umami sensations that make everything taste better. The smoked almonds (a favorite snack) add crunch, and the fresh herbs add brightness.
What do you like to serve these with?
I really enjoy them with smoked roasted pork loin with the fat cap left on. The shredded sprouts become a salad of sorts and act as a partner for the richness of the meat. They’re also great on sandwiches.
If kale and Brussels sprouts got into a fight, who would win?
Brussels sprouts! Dense and packed full of goodness, they’re the Chuck Norris of the brassicas.
Dry Creek Kitchen – Healdsburg, CA
Browned-Butter Seared Brussels Sprouts with Cauliflower Cream
|Dustin Valette||Browned-Butter Seared Brussels Sprouts with Cauliflower Cream|
Wine Country chef Dustin Valette uses a red Radio Flyer wagon to haul fresh-picked sprouts from the farm market. Then he pairs them with a creamy cauliflower purée.
Have you always loved Brussels sprouts?
Not always. My dad used to boil the hell out them like everyone’s parents did. When I finally tasted them not overcooked, I became a big fan.
What do you look for in a Brussels sprout?
I like to buy the freshest Brussels sprouts possible, preferably still on the stem, which I can often do because I’m lucky to have such wonderful produce right here. (I buy from one farmer who was my babysitter, and she likes to remind me of that.)
We swooned over your dish; what makes it taste so good?
The Brussels sprouts are a little bitter, but their astringency is softened by the creamy cauliflower, which has a rich silkiness to it. The dish is then balanced by the briny capers, tangy lemon, and cheese.
The Whelk – Westport, CT
Sweet-and-Sour Fried Brussels Sprouts
|Bill Taibe||Sweet-and-Sour Fried Brussels Sprouts|
At his Connecticut restaurant, Bill Taibe fries Brussels sprouts and then tosses them in a sweet and sour sauce. The result is like Brussels sprout candy.
Why are Brussels sprouts so popular with chefs right now?
They have a great combination of taste and texture and really hold on well to flavors. We easily go through 15 to 20 pounds of them a night in season.
How do you get a kid to try Brussels sprouts?
Fry them. Kids need texture, and they like things that have crispy-crunchy edges. Start simple by finishing them with lemon or orange juice and good olive oil.
What are some other ways you like them?
I also like them raw, sliced thin and mixed with sharp, salty cheese, lemon juice, and pine nuts.
Food photos: Scott Phillips
Chef photos as follows: Hayward courtesy of Trenchermen, Sheerin by Russell French, Valette courtesy of Dustin Valette, and Taibe by Devon Fagel