Thursday, November 24, 2011
I've Got Your Brussels Sprouts Right Here...
175 lbs. Whatever. It’s still not 225.
If you freak out easily over terms like “bacon”, “oil” or “fucker,” this is not the blog post for you. Go find one all about kittens and puppies. Of course, these days being what they are, the puppies probably bark George Carlin’s “7 Words You Can’t Say on TV.”
Okay, I decided to experiment and be something of a grown-up (50. You can’t pretend to be a teenager anymore) and bought Brussels sprouts with the intention of making them the green vegetable for my Thanksgiving dinner. Understand, I am not only a member of the Brussels Sprouts Suck Society, I’m its President and up until today, it was President for Life (sort of like Hugo Chavez and judging by the look of him lately, he’s coming up on his term limit pretty soon). If not properly prepared, they’re inedible: chewy (like it’ll take you a half-hour), just bitter enough to not taste very good and (up until today) pretty much a pointless exercise in eating. You want me to eat green vegetables? Throw me some green beans or Swiss chard. Use the BS (oh, figure it out) as ammunition.
Brussels sprouts have been the butt of many a joke about how nothing good ever came from Belgium. Except chocolate, French fries and Jean-Claude Van Damme. A kitten could knock one around a house for days without damaging it. Pointless vegetable: looks like a miniature cabbage without the potential of becoming coleslaw.
But, I decided to boldly go where my tastebuds had never gone (“What’s that? Anymore and I’ll have to pay a royalty to Gene Roddenberry’s estate? And William Shatner?”Lawyers. Jeez.)…fill in the blank.
Trouble is, how do you make the little fuckers edible?
I put the question to my buddy, Santino (aka Sonny). Sonny is a pro, having established a barbecue catering business and soon to branch into sandwiches. I told him I had the accursed sprouts and pancetta (Trader Joe’s. If you don’t have one handy, move). His reply:
“Personally, my favorite way to prep them is to cut them in half lengthwise, light drizzle of olive erl, *salt & pepper then roast those fuckers in a wicked hot oven. 400 degrees is good, 425 is better. 25-30 minutes should do it so that they get all crunchy browned & sweet. Then pop 'em like peanut M&Ms...
*if you have any of that bacon salt like what you'd sent me, use that.
Side note, if you happen to think of it, put a fine chop to that pancetta & add it to the party for about the last 8-10 mins of cooking. Trow everything into a bowl after cooking, mix thoroughly (some of that crystalized lemon wouldn't hurt) and enjoy.”©
(No, those are not unintentional spelling errors. That’s Sonny being Sonny)
I did as advised (except I didn’t add the bacon salt (obtained from Cost Plus World Market. Not in your neighborhood? Annoyed sigh. Buy it online or MOVE) until after I’d cooked them). (Crystallized lemon: I get it in the baking aisle at Ralphs aka Krogers. True Lemon. You could squeeze a real one over the finished product. And if you lived in California or Florida, you might even have a tree in your backyard. Almost makes up for the occasional earthquake or Category 4 hurricane. Almost).
I opted for the 30 minutes at 425 degrees (setting the timer initially for 20 minutes so I could add the pancetta. Hey, you can always chop up some bacon if you don’t have pancetta, just use applewood smoked because the smoky addition to the flavor is priceless. And if you’re vegan, what are you doing still reading this?).
Holy crap, were those things good. I finished off the whole bowl. This is the first Thanksgiving where I’ve loaded up on green vegetables, not potatoes, appetizers or sweets. And Brussels sprouts, no less… The sprouts actually did have some sweetness to them and the lemon added a fantastic bright punch.
As I type this, my turkey (a cranberry and apple stuffed breast from Trader Joe’s. Oh, relax, I just did 2 hours on the elliptical machine in the gym) is roasting in the oven and I made a low-carb pumpkin pie from a recipe on www.emilyzaler.com. Haven’t tasted that yet, but I’ll report back later. I have sweet potatoes and cornbread stuffing (TJ’s again. Seriously, people, either lobby to get on in your neighborhood or get CARE packages), but they may not get consumed until tomorrow with leftover turkey.
But yes, today, November 24, 2011, the Brussels sprout has officially been conquered.