Saturday, June 30, 2012

Crispy Parmesan Brussel Sprouts

You read that right.

This is a post about Brussel Sprouts.

That curious vegetable that most children are certain without even trying them that they are truly disgusting. The vegetable out-law.

I was one of those children. I had never heard anybody say -- "YUM! I LOVE brussel sprouts! I could eat brussel sprouts for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!" And so, for this reason, I was positive that brussel sprouts were disgusting. I was set on never EVER eating a single brussel sprout so long as I lived.

Things changed this Easter when my aunt made a side dish that consisted of brussel sprouts and pancetta. I was more or less bullied into trying the brussel sprouts and, much to my surprise, I returned for seconds...and thirds.

If I had to describe what this vegetable is like, I'd have to say it's very simply a miniature cabbage. It tastes a bit woody and a little bitter, but it's flavor can be enhanced through the right cooking techniques (think: pancetta). A quick Google search tells me that it has a nutrient profile similar to broccoli.

Since that Easter meal, I have been wanting to try whipping up some brussel sprouts in different ways. Well, two months later I finally got around to preparing brussel sprouts for one of my dinners. I must say, even if you are one of those "never going to eat brussel sprouts in my life" folks, you would have gobbled my brussel sprouts up (consider my own horn, tooted).

A flash frying and a little bit of parmesan cheese make these irresistible. And with a total prep and cook time of 10 minutes, it's a great way to fancy up a weeknight dinner.

Here's what you need for Crispy Parmesan Brussel Sprouts:

20 small brussel sprouts (try to find as many as you can that are of similar sizes. If some are larger and some are smaller, they will cook unevenly--this goes for almost any preparation of this veggie!)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup shredded parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

Here's what you do:

Heat almost all of the oil in a flat-bottomed frying pan over medium heat.
Remove the stems of the brussel sprouts and cut in half length-wise. Toss and coat in the remaining oil.
If you are cooking over an open flame (GAS STOVES, HAAAYYY!!), reduce heat to low and place the brussel sprouts, cut side down, in the frying pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and cook for 5 minutes or until the bottoms start to brown and the insides become tender.
Remove the lid and increase the heat slightly. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. This will allow the bottoms to get super crispy and I found that they caramelized slightly.
Flip the brussel sprouts to get a slight browning on the round side.

After 30 seconds, add the parmesan cheese and turn off the heat. Any cheese that immediately hits the bottom of the pan is going to get brown and crisp and amazing. The rest will melt beautifully onto the crispy edge of the brussel sprouts.

Serve immediately!

You want to be careful not to overcook these. Overcooked brussel sprouts lead to a very unpleasant flavor in general. But, with this recipe, because you do not constantly flip and turn the veggies in the oil, things can get charred very easily. A little finesse and a keen eye will ensure a golden brown, tender, and delicious side dish!

I paired them with citrus scented quinoa and baked tilapia with browned onion slices! Amazing!

Are you scared of brussel sprouts? Or do you have a go-to recipe to make them deliciously irresistible?

1 comment: