Fine Cooking (November 2009)
Reader, we fear we've done you a grave injustice. There's one vegetable we absolutely love, a vegetable we serve at home with great frequency. In fact, if you were to come to our house for dinner during a cold month, chances are this vegetable would be on the menu.
But until now, we've somehow never written about it on The Bitten Word!
We're rectifying that right now: We adore Brussels sprouts, and so should you.
Most of the time, we prepare Brussels sprouts very simply. Cut off the stems and cut each sprout in half. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and -- the real key -- dice a couple slices of bacon and mix them in. Roast the whole thing in the oven for about a half hour.
Seriously, it's great: We've made Brussels sprout converts out of countless dinner guests who arrived with horrible childhood memories of sprouts as limp, mushy and bland.
If you think you don't like Brussels sprouts, it's just because you haven't had them the right way. Trust us!
And if you're looking for a terrific Brussels sprouts recipe (other than our roast version with bacon), look no further than these Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Hazelnut Butter.
This is a great Thanksgiving side option for a few reasons. For one, with all the stuffing and mashed potatoes and yams, it can be hard to find a green vegetable on the Thanksgiving table. These sprouts are a nice, green addition to the menu.
On top of that, they're a great option because the lion's share of the work can be done a day or more in advance. You can make this hazelnut butter early and keep it in the fridge until you're ready to use it. In fact, you can slice the sprouts hours ahead of dinner time, as well.
So when it's time to eat, this dish comes together in just under 30 minutes. Plus, this dish is cooked on the stovetop, saving you precious oven space.
The hazelnut butter really brings out the great nutty flavor of the Brussels sprouts. And the handful of chopped hazelnuts you throw in at the last minute add a nice crunch to the dish.
You may not think of Brussels sprouts as crowd-pleasers. But serve these hazelnut Brussels sprouts at Thanksgiving, and we predict you'll be left with an empty bowl!
Serves six to eight.
For the butter
- 1/3 cup hazelnuts (about 1 oz.)
- 2 oz. (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
- 1-1/2 tsp. lightly chopped fresh thyme
- 1/2 tsp. honey
- Kosher salt
For the brussels sprouts
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1-3/4 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered or cut into 6 wedges if very large (about 6 cups)
- Kosher salt
- 1/2 cup lower-salt chicken broth
Make the butter
Heat the oven to 400°F. Put the hazelnuts on a small rimmed baking sheet. Roast in the oven until they are a deep golden-brown (the skins will be visibly splitting), 5 to 6 minutes. Wrap the nuts in a clean kitchen towel, cool for a couple of minutes, and then take the skins off by rubbing the nuts together in the kitchen towel while still warm. Don’t worry about getting all of the skins off.
Let the nuts cool for about 10 minutes. Finely chop 1/4 cup of the nuts in a small food processor. The nuts should be very finely ground, but not so much that they turn into nut butter. Coarsely chop the remaining nuts and set aside for a garnish.
Put the finely chopped nuts, butter, lemon zest, thyme, honey, and 1/4 tsp. salt in a small bowl and mix with a spatula until well combined. Set aside or refrigerate if not using right away.
Cook the brussels sprouts
Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium high heat. Add the Brussels sprouts and 1-1/2 tsp. salt and stir well. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally and then more frequently as the sprouts begin to brown, until all of the sprouts are golden-brown on most sides and have lost their raw color (they will still feel firm), 15 to 18 minutes.
Add the broth and immediately cover the pan. Cook until the broth has reduced to a few tablespoons, about 2 minutes. Uncover, raise the heat to high, and boil off most of the remaining liquid, 1 to 2 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and add the hazelnut butter in spoonfuls; toss well. Season to taste with salt.
Transfer the sprouts to a warm serving dish and garnish with the reserved hazelnuts.
Make Ahead Tips
You can trim and quarter the Brussels sprouts several hours before cooking. The butter can be made and refrigerated (tightly wrapped) 2 days ahead. Store the extra nuts for garnish at room temperature.