Brussels Sprouts v1.0

TL; DR:

make up a solution composed of equal parts sour and sweet, maybe with some spices. cut sprouts rough. crumble/chop nuts a bit. mix it all together. broil the suckers until they start to crisp. remove from heat and cool.

key ingredients are: brussels sprouts, balsamic vinegar, pecans (or other tree nuts), maple syrup, brown sugar, oil

THE STORY

Over Christmas/New Year’s my family and I took a road trip down to California from Seattle. We saw a lot of beautiful nature, we got to experience the perennial warmth of California, and we also got to eat some absolutely incredible food. I will probably be slowly picking away at the recipe list that I collected over the course of the year and hopefully find some things that are impressive and easy to do.

This entry is in regards to one of the signature items at the Palo Alto Grill: their fried brussels sprouts. They were incredible. Now, apparently it is a thing to complain about Brussels sprouts being tasteless or requiring hefty doses of butter and salt. I don’t really know about that because I’m pretty sure I can count the number of times I’ve actually had Brussels sprouts on my fingers. They fit pretty well.

Anyway. The crux of these Brussels sprouts is the blend of caramelized sugars with just enough sour and a salt to make the whole construction savory. I know that they used a maple glaze for their sprouts, and incorporated pecans into the mix, but I wouldn’t presume to speculate much further than that.

I present therefore my first draft of these maple-pecan Brussels sprouts.

Ingredients:

  • Brussels sprouts (one handful per serving)
  • A vegetable oil (grapeseed, olive, flaxseed, canola)
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Maple syrup, or any soluble sugar (more complex the better)
  • Pepper
  • Coarse salt

Equipment:

  • Baking sheet for broiling
  • One large bowl
  • One small bowl
  1. Wash the sprouts
  2. Cut the sprouts
  3. Place them into the large bowl
    • Remove any leaves that seem wilted
    • I cut them lengthwise (stem to crown) in thirds
  4. In small bowl, mix vinegar and syrup. I would shoot for a 1:1 or even a 2:3 ratio of vinegar to syrup. If you don’t have syrup, I recommend brown sugar at a 2:1 ratio (wet to dry by volume). Overall, you want maybe 1/2 cup liquid per serving.
  5. Add oil, maybe a 1:8 oil to liquid ratio. Blend with fork until loosely emulsified.
  6. Carefully add salt until it is just noticeable. If desired, repeat with cracked pepper.
    • The balance of flavors should be sweet > sour > salty. Remember that we are trying to have enough sugars to caramelize.
    • Don’t go crazy with the salt/pepper. You can add those later. This is just to get some extra flavor inside of the sprouts while we are putting everything into solution.
  7. Crumble/chop the pecans (or other nuts).
  8. Put everything into the large bowl.
  9. Mix thoroughly.
  10. Let rest for at least 5 minutes, up to at most 30.
  11. Turn on the broiler
    • Particle size for pecans should be 2-3 mm diameter
    • Make sure as much of the liquid is covering the sprouts
    • I assume that resting can only improve it. I didn’t experiment with this.
    • You want the broiler to be hot before you start using it.
  12. Lightly oil baking sheet
  13. Use a slotted spoon to place the sprouts onto the baking sheet.
  14. If you wish, pour some of the retained liquid onto the sprouts. Don’t overdo this or you’ll have a cleanup mess.
  15. Stick the sheet in the oven no more than two levels below the broiler.
  16. Broil for ~5 minutes. Check frequently for blackening.
  17. If there seems to be major heat differences between the tops and bottoms of the sprouts, feel free to flip them and cook for another 3 minutes.
  18. Take it out and let it rest.
  19. Adjust flavor balance with salt.
    • Broiling is a dark art. Just try to gauge when everything is crispy and on the edge of burning.
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