We’ve been playing around with brussels sprouts lately. They’re a totally under-appreciated vegetable. This recipe is the way we prepared them on Thanksgiving. It’s not a quick recipe, but it’s totally worth it. The sprouts were lovely. Find the recipe, below:
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Shiitake Mushrooms and Sesame Vinaigrette
5 lbs. brussels sprouts, rinsed, trimmed, and halved
1 lb. good quality bacon (we used lovely, locally raised bacon from Grub, a Chico, CA based co-op farm run by the most beautiful people)
1/2 lb. fresh shiitake mushrooms, rinsed, stemmed, and thinly sliced
3 large onions, quartered, skins removed
1 full head garlic (we used home-grown elephant garlic from Kimberly Ranch – the name of Woody’s mom’s place)
Lots of good olive oil
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
1/3 cup olive oil
2 – 3 Tbsp. rice vinegar (depending on how vinegar-y you like it)
2 Tbsp. honey
Sea Salt, to taste
Grab someone to give you a hand in the kitchen. Woody and I shared tasks which made the preparation move faster, and was much more fun. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Begin by cutting the top end off of the onions (leave the root end intact – this helps the onion hold together when roasting). Cut the onion in half, remove the paper and first layer, then quarter. Toss generously with olive oil and sea salt. Cut the top off of the head of garlic and generously drizzle olive oil down inside the homes of the cloves and sprinkle the top with sea salt. Roast at 400 degrees F until the outermost layer of the onions are dark and caramelized – slightly blackened is okay, too – and the garlic cloves are caramelized and softened. Check them after 20 minutes. This method gives the onions a great soft-sweetness that I think you’ll enjoy.
Rinse and trim the 1/2 inch of stem that may still be attached to the bottom of the brussels sprouts, and remove any outer leaves that are damaged. Cut each sprout in half and place in a large bowl. Toss with enough olive oil to coat. Be generous with the olive oil. Roast the sprouts on a large sheet pan in the 400 degree oven oven they’re all caramelized – give it about 25-30 minutes or so. Pull them out when they look like the photo at the top of this page.
While the sprouts are roasting, cube up the bacon (about 1/2 inch squares) and place in a large pan over medium heat to render the fat and cook it through. Thinly slice the shiitakes and add to the bacon, continuing to cook over medium heat (adding more oil, if necessary) until the mushrooms are caramelized and dark. Salt, to taste; set aside. They should look like this:
Carefully chop the onions after removing the outmost layer – they’re slippery little suckers (throwing them in a Cuisinart is totally okay, just pulse them till they’re chopped evenly, about 1/4 inch pieces). Pull the cloves of garlic from their little homes and smoosh them together into a paste (I used the edge of my knife to do this) and add a little extra sea salt. Mix the garlic with the chopped onions until distributed evenly.
Combine the sprouts, onion mixture, and bacon mixture in a large bowl and toss until all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Whisk together the ingredients for the vinaigrette (this can be made ahead, or as the first step of this recipe) and toss with the sprouts. De-lish.
*Good quality bacon makes a huge difference in this recipe. You could also use pancetta, prosciutto, or speck.
*You may not want to use the outer layer of onion for your sprouts, but they are perfect for eating – they come out almost like sweet, salty, onion crisps. You may even be able to entice an eight year old to enjoy onions.
*One of the best lessons Woody has taught me is not to hold back on the oil. However much I think is enough, he adds more, and his roasted food is always just slightly more delicious.