Ruby’s Corner: Brussels to Believe In
You know you wanna come around … but yo’ great grandmama done messed yo’ grandmama … and yo’ mama … and you up. Not her fault. Blame it on the Depression — but nobody needs to put those things anywhere near boiling water. Just stop it. You’re insulting them … and you’re insulting the universe.
Brussels sprouts, rumored to have originated in Belgium, are low in carbohydrates, well-to-do in fiber, and through-the-roof in beneficial Vitamins C and K. When made right, they sing like nothing else I’ve encountered in the vegetable kingdom.
I am a picky Brussels sprouts eater. I don’t like ’em mushy. I don’t like ’em bland. I don’t like ’em al dente. I like them caramelized and crispy-skinned on the outside, and crunchy-meets-creamy on the inside. You don’t have to worry about wondering how the heck to make them that way. Luckily for you, you’re reading this article. Recipe below.
This is a loose recipe because I truly want you to be the composer of this cuisine. I want you to make it with ingredients you personally prefer; I will give you the base guidelines. This recipe can serve as many as you need or desire. As a side dish, I tend to prep 4-5 sprouts per person. Prep more if it’s your only side dish, or if you want leftovers (It makes for a wonderful cold dish the next day).
– Brussels sprouts
– Something sweet (I use brown sugar.)
– Something salty (I use kosher salt.)
– Something acidic (Any dark vinegar will do. I use balsamic.)
– Something spicy (The sky is the limit. Some like it hot; some like it deep. I like both. Get your mind out of the gutter. I use a double-tap of cayenne, several cracks of black pepper, and a liberal sprinkling of cumin.)
– Grapeseed oil (I prefer grapeseed oil because it still tastes ‘clean’ after it’s been heated to high temperatures. Olive oil, when brought to high heat, tastes bitter. Not good — and they say it’s not good for you).
– 1 Roasting sheet with some kind of a lip
Preheat oven to 500F.
Cut the stubby little butts off of the sprouts and slice in half, length-wise. The outer leaves will fall away naturally. Discard them. If more leaves become loose later from mixing them with the condiments, keep those in the pan with the sprouts.
Transfer the halved sprouts to the roasting pan and make sure they are not on top of each other. Do not over-crowd the pan or they may end up steaming in the oven. If they are loosely ¼-in. to 1-in. apart, they will crisp up better.
Drizzle oil onto the sprouts until they are glossy but not swimming.
Add all of the remaining ingredients to your personal taste. Toss and mix the sprouts with your hands, tasting the loose leaves now and then to check for seasoning. The general rule is: If it doesn’t taste good to you raw, it won’t taste good to you cooked, so just add more of the ingredients in whatever combination you desire until you hear the hum of an “Mmm” come out of your voice box. For instance, I ended up having to add almost a full tablespoon of cumin, when initially I thought I would only need 1 teaspoon. I like cumin and I wanted it to stand out.
TIP: Go slowly on the salt. Add less than you think you will need at first, and then come up gradually. ¼ tsp. at a time is a good rule of thumb.
Spread the sprouts out evenly again on the roasting sheet, making sure to not crowd them.
Place them in the 500F oven and roast them for 5 minutes. Use a metal spatula to toss them and flip them as much as you can, distribute them evenly again and roast another five minutes. Turn the oven down to 450 and let them go for a final five minutes.
Take out of the oven and put on a serving dish.
I like to squeeze a little lemon juice to finish and kosher salt and black pepper. Grated Pecorino Romano cheese on top is also a winner, as well as a sprinkling of red chili flakes, crumbled bacon, dried cranberries, or whatever your beautiful heart desires.
Yeah, you’ll like it.