I love Brussels sprouts.
I love cabbage and brassicas in general, so this is no surprise. Those of you who’ve been reading for a few years may remember when we attempted to grow Brussels sprouts back in the winter of 2019/2020. While many of our other brassicas did beautifully (looking at you, kale and collard greens), our cabbage and sprouts did not fare so well, thanks to a combination of weird weather, aphids, and who knows what else.
In our defense, we don’t have many farmers out here at markets who sell Brussels sprouts, which indicates that they may be hard to grow in our area, at least commercially. So, for now, I’m content with buying them from someone else.
All this is to say again, I love Brussels sprouts, whether homegrown/homefailed or purchased, and ever since I discovered their deliciousness far too short of a time ago, they have graced all of my holiday tables, as well as many a fall and winter table.
Despite their relatively difficulty in growing and procuring locally, Brussels sprouts are easy to prepare and make delicious. Because they’re so small and, well, cabbages, sprouts tend to do best either shredded raw for a slaw or salad, steamed very briefly (just enough for them to turn a brighter green), or roasted at a high temperature. Cook them for too long, or with too much water, and you’ll end up with a gray, mushy mess. Bleck.
So, don’t do that, and you’ll have a tasty dish, whether for the holidays or just for funzies. The first recipe is simple and beautiful – roasted, salted, and spiced – and can be eaten as a side, snack, or secret midnight affair. I don’t care what you do.
The second recipe is adapted from Alton Brown’s recipe, and I haven’t changed it much at all. It’s been requested for nearly a decade for every holiday because it’s just. Plain. Dank. These requests include the haters, my friends. If you think you hate Brussels sprouts, I double dog dare you to try this recipe and tell me you still hate them.
Hey. I love you so much, I’ll even include a vegetarian version of the second recipe, which is, in my opinion, just as good as the meaty one. I got you.
Ready? Let’s make some sprouts!
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
These make a great side dish or snack! You can dress them up with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, and/or play with the spices. Go you!
you will need:
- 1 lb Brussels sprouts
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp cooking fat (lard, bacon grease, or olive oil will do, depending on what flavor you want)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Rinse sprouts, remove any yellowing or brown leaves, and cut off any hard stems. Halve any large ones (any bigger than say, a half-dollar).
- Line a baking sheet or roasting pan with parchment or a Silpat, and spread the sprouts in a single layer. Drizzle with fat of choice and distribute evenly by stirring sprouts with a spoon (you can also do this in a bowl – I just hate dirtying up more dishes). Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Roast sprouts for 10-15 minutes, stirring and flipping halfway through, until the edges of leaves are just starting to brown (they may even burn – that’s okay!) and the cabbage is softened slightly but still looks green. Serve immediately.
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Blue Cheese
If making these as part of a larger holiday meal, save them for last - they come together pretty quickly and are best eaten soon after they’re cooked.
you will need:
- 1 lb Brussels sprouts
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ c water
- 4 rashers bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 small yellow or sweet onion, thinly sliced (about ½ c)
- 1 medium tart apple (such as Granny Smith), cored, peeled, and cut into ½ inch pieces
- ½ c cream
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 oz (about ¼ c) blue cheese, crumbled
- pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Prep the Brussels sprouts: Rinse sprouts, remove any yellowing or brown leaves, and cut off any hard stems. Halve any large ones (any bigger than say, a half-dollar). Place sprouts, water, and salt in a medium microwave-safe bowl, cover, and microwave until the sprouts have turned bright green and are slightly softened, about 3-5 minutes. Drain and set aside. (You can also steam them on the stovetop.)
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon to a paper-towel lined plate. Pour off and save all but 2 tablespoons of the fat (use the leftover fat to make, say, roasted Brussels sprouts, or whatever else you use seed oil for) and return the skillet to medium heat.
- Add onion and apple to the skillet, cooking until the onions are softened and the apple is softened and browning a bit on the edges. Add cream, mustard, and black pepper, stirring to coat. Remove from heat and add Brussels sprouts, stirring to coat. Add blue cheese, bacon, and nutmeg last, returning to heat briefly before serving.
Smoky Brussels Sprouts with Cheese: Omit the bacon. Use a good high-heat oil (such as regular olive oil or vegetable oil) where bacon fat is used. Add in ½-1 tsp smoked paprika along with the black pepper.