With due credit given to Mr. LL Cool J, it would seem that Brussels Sprout are, in fact, making a comeback. I can honestly say, I NEVER saw them on a menu between 1995 and 2005 (that’s when I stopped paying attention to what the cool chefs were cooking). I certainly never put them on any of my menus. I’ll even admit that I … ummm… don’t really like them, and on this I hardly think I’m alone. However, the last two times I’ve eaten at “fancy” restaurants (one in Denver, CO and one in Portsmouth, NH) they have been on the menu.
When I eat out, I order things that I can’t make (due to ingredient availability) or, have never even thought of, e.g. any recipe involving the aforementioned sprouts. So I tried them… in both cases the chef “hid” them. In one case they were shredded before cooking, and in the other the leaves were carefully separated from the “head”. By the way, I feel really bad for the poor prep cook who spends all day separating the leaves of Brussels sprouts. But… both times, I liked them; much more than the last time I had them (around 1991 when I went off to college). So I put them on my list of things to start experimenting with.
Fast forward to today…
My mom is a great cook, but like most of you she follows recipes, in her case to the T. She will try anything once; but if after carefully following the recipe, she doesn’t like it… out it goes, to never be tried, or tinkered with, again. OK, that is a bit of an exaggeration, and I know she’s going to read this, but you “I follow recipes” folks know who you are. It surprised me then when today she sent me an original… “Braised Brussels sprouts with onions and red grapes”… something she “made up”.
It instinctively made sense to me. Brussels sprouts are bitter, grapes are sweet. Bittersweet… that sounds like a great idea, add some bacon for salt and some white wine for sour and we may be on to something. So with only an idea, as opposed to a photo copy of a recipe or a link, I set off to make this work. First problem: finding Brussels sprouts. Having never really looked, I was surprised that after going to two stores, I had to call four more before I found fresh ones. My mother finds them in her garden.
You may have noticed (if you are one of my four dedicated followers (including my mom)) that I don’t post my own recipes. That’s because I don’t have any idea of what really goes into them. I post links from respectable sites because those recipes have, presumably, been tested for accuracy. But in honor of my mother getting out of her box and cooking without a recipe, I will get out of mine and write one.
So without further ado…
– 2 slices smoky bacon cut into small pieces
– 2 shallots sliced thinly
– 3 cups fresh Brussels sprouts (I quartered them, but feel free to peel them or shred them if you need to hide them from your family)
– 1 clove of garlic minced
– ½ cup white wine
– 1 cup of red seedless grapes, halved
– 1 cup of chicken broth (boxed is fine by me)
– Salt and Pepper to taste (yes you still have to taste)
In a large sauté pan, over medium heat cook the bacon until almost crispy. Add the sliced shallot and cook for 2 minutes. Add the quartered Brussels sprouts and garlic and continue to cook for 2 or 3 minutes. Add the grapes and the white wine. Cook for about 5 minute until most of the liquid is gone. Add the chicken stock. Return to a boil turn heat to low, cover and simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed and the sprout stems are tender, around 20 minutes. Taste, season, taste again, season again, repeat if necessary, enjoy.
“Ok then… I won’t.”
“Yes Mr. Cool J. I do understand that they only had small shirts in that style.”