Photo Credit: E. Rosemond-Hoerr
Until this weekend, I'm pretty sure I had never had a Brussels sprout in my life. And no, it wasn't because I was a picky eater or because my mom was lenient about our vegetable intake. In fact my mother's motto “variety is the spice of life” (which is mom code for “guess what, you're eating that broccoli”) meant that I ate pretty much everything. Which leads me to believe my mother had an aversion to Brussels sprouts.
While I may have never eaten one myself, I was all too aware of their bad reputation. Everyone knows that kids hate Brussels sprouts, right? And apparently, after polling my friends, so do a lot of adults. It turns out that Brussels sprouts can taste awful. But, as it were, I'm on a mission to learn more about winter vegetables, which meant that sprouts were on the menu.
Lately it seems as though I've been on a roasting kick, which I believe is a side effect of winter. Slowly roasting beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and potatoes allows the flavors to blossom and develop and serves as the perfect addition to the warm, hearty meals we're all craving. I roasted the sprouts on a whim but it paid off big. The high temperature cooked them all the way through but also made the outer edges incredibly crispy. Tossed in olive oil and a fair amount of kosher salt and pepper, these had the winning combination of texture and flavor.
To add a bit of a kick to the sprouts I served them with a balsamic vinegar reduction. When balsamic vinegar is warmed over low heat for a few hours the liquid reduces into a sweet, intensely flavorful sauce. It's perfect over pork chops, salads, and roasted vegetables. It played off the bitterness of the sprouts to create a dish that, as our guests described, had them saying Brussels sprouts were delicious for the first time in their lives.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Reduction Sauce
4 cups fresh Brussels sprouts
17 oz. bottle balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
Over medium heat, reduce the vinegar for 3-4 hours, or until it's thickened. Cool.
Slice the ends off of the sprouts and remove any outer leaves that are yellowed or brown. Place them in a bowl and toss them with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast, uncovered, for 50 to 60 minutes at 400 degrees F.