I know, I know…you hate Brussels sprouts. If you feel that way, I empathize with you, because many of us were introduced to Brussels sprouts that were boiled into a gray, unappealing mush that was completely unappetizing and rather disgusting. However, these beautiful little members of the cabbage family are truly delicious when prepared correctly and with love. And there is much to love about them. They are absolutely wonderful when roasted until they are still firm and crispy. And Brussels sprouts are extremely nutritious, with a one cup serving providing well over 100% of the RDA of vitamin C, and the ability to help balance cholesterol levels and to help protect our DNA! But mostly, they are delicious.
Brussels sprouts are a cool weather vegetable that sends out tall stocks covered with tiny cabbages. Like most members of the cabbage family, they are relatively easy to grow–the trick is to mostly ignore them. A hint of frost sweetens Brussels sprouts, as does roasting them until they are caramelized, and still a little crunchy.
Roasted Brussels sprouts are absolutely delicious on their own, but you can raise the delight up to another level by throwing in a handful of diced pancetta and tossing them in a quick sauce made of butter, mayo and a few anchovies. We first tasted this amazing sauce at Houston’s restaurant, where my daughter, Heather, worked for a few years. I know it sounds a little strange, but the anchovy adds a wonderful depth of flavor. Give it a try and tell me what you think! I’m pretty sure you’ll love it.
For the Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta:
1 1/2 pounds of fresh Brussels sprouts, cut in half with tough outer leaves removed
6-8 ounces of diced Pancetta (optional)
3 Tablespoons olive oil
3/4 Teaspoons salt
1/4 Teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a cast iron skillet or on a cookie sheet, toss the Brussels sprouts and the pancetta in the olive oil to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Roast about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the Brussels sprouts are slightly browned and crispy on the edges. If you are not brave enough to try the anchovy butter, a squeeze of lemon adds a nice hint of acidity.
For the Anchovy Butter Sauce:
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup mayonnaise
3-4 anchovy filets, rinsed
A squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon of raw sugar
Melt the butter over medium heat in a saucepan (or use the skillet you roasted the Brussels sprouts in). Swirl in the mayonnaise. Add the anchovies, and crush them with a fork until they completely disappear into the butter sauce. Squeeze the fresh lemon juice into the sauce and stir to combine. Pour the sauce over the roasted Brussels sprouts and toss. Sprinkle with the raw sugar and toss again.