This post could be called many things. Balsamic Brussels. Bed. The Bachelorette. Blogging again after a life-imposed hiatus. You know. But for now, let’s just stick with Brussels. Because they’re easy and delicious and I’m actively shoveling them into my maw like there is no tomorrow. Except, of course there is tomorrow. A day full of projects, work, the gym, on and on. And hopefully, likely, probably…Brussels.
My weird love for Brussels sprouts has already been discussed here, but it bears another look because of tonight’s addition to this tried and true recipe: balsamic vinegar. Most chefs, and even regular people who simply love to cook, all have a “secret ingredient” – that thing they reach for, again and again, that makes their dishes sing. Lemon juice, siracha, red wine, cayenne – the list is endless. For me, it’s balsamic vinegar. I put it in omelets, over pan roasted carrots, in bruschetta, in pasta salad, even over a plain hunk of warm bread, straight from the oven. I once put it over strawberry ice cream and I’ll tell you something: it was disgusting. But I don’t blame the balsamic, no. I blame the strawberry ice cream. I not so secretly really hate strawberry ice cream.
But let’s get back to balsamic Brussels sprouts. Something about the sweet, tangy blend that is balsamic vinegar dances a little duet with the nuttiness of the sprouts, and the result is an umami explosion, a flavor that is at once both complex and completely down home. I wish there were another, less cheesey way to describe what’s happening in this dish, but there isn’t, so there. As a pepper addict, I also lean very heavily on the freshly ground black pepper and a little bit of grated parmesan to pull it all together. You could also use grated pecorino, if you are a schvancy person who has pecorino on hand, but for we, the less schvancy, a few teaspoons of parm do this up right nicely.
If you have any questions or need me later, I’ll be here, with my giant bowl of Brussels sprouts, in bed (yes, I eat in my bed, THE HORROR!) and watch last night’s episode of The Bachelorette. My brain might be filled with junk, but my belly is full of warm veg goodness. For tonight, that’s more than good enough.
BALSAMIC BRUSSELS SPROUTS
. One stalk of brussels
. Four tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, plus an extra splash for serving
. Kosher salt
. Ground pepper
. Freshly ground parmesan
1. Cut the sprouts free of the stalk, and then cut the rough bottoms off. Halve them longitudinally, or like you’d cut an avocado, not an orange.
2. Rub EVOO into the flat sides of the sprouts, while also heating a glug of EVOO in a big, flat skillet with a lid.
3. Put the sprouts into a large bowl once they’ve been EVOO’ed and coat them with salt, pepper and four tablespoons of balsamic.
4. Once the skillet is nice and hot, put the sprouts flat side down in the pan, reserving any outer leaves that have come off in the EVOO process. You’ll definitely want to cook those too, just not at first, or they’ll get too crispy and black.
5. Lid the pan and let the sprouts roast anywhere from 5 – 10 minutes. Keep monitoring them and checking the undersides. Once they start carmelizing and turning golden brown on the bottoms, you can start to flip them over.
6. Lightly oil the leaves and add them to the pan, tossing everything up so the sprouts lightly brown on the outsides and start to pop.
7. Dump the whole mess into a bowl, add that extra splash of balsamic if you’d like, and top with the cheese of your choice. Eating in bed, watching crap reality TV, is optional.