Chef Kelly Unger
Maple Roasted Brussel Sprouts
I love these “little cabbages”! They look almost alien, tiny little green orbs growing on a tall stalk. A cool weather vegetable, they are just as delicious raw in a salad as they are sautéed or roasted. Loaded with antioxidants, Vitamin K and C, fiber, sulphur and iron, enjoy these nutrient powerhouses while they’re in season. I make them for Thanksgiving every year and as often as I can in the Fall. For Thanksgiving I chiffonade them, a ribbon cut achieved by trimming off the ends, cutting the sprout in half lengthwise, placing it cut side down on my board and then slicing each half into ribbons widthwise. I saute the cut sprout ribbons with rendered bacon pieces (½ pound of bacon cut into ¼ inch pieces and cooked until the solid fat is turned into liquid) and a caramelized onion until just tender, 5 to 10 minutes depending on the amount you are making. The bacon should be crispy, the onion caramelized and the sprouts tender with some pieces a little charred. The easiest way to cook brussel sprouts this way is in a cast iron skillet. Chiffonade of brussel sprouts is the way I like to eat them raw in a salad as well.
When roasting brussel sprouts, I love to finish them with maple syrup. I always make extra because whatever is leftover goes into a salad the next day. The sprouts can be roasted whole but when you cut them in half and place them cut side down on the sheet pan, you get more surface to caramelize thus, more roasty flavor goodness. And they cook quicker as well. If you roast them whole, not only does it take longer but you may end up having an all charred outside and a still crunchy inside. Some people get around this by blanching or boiling the sprouts first. I don’t recommend this. Ever! It’s easy to overcook them when boiling AND boiling them makes them mushy. Not only that, an overcooked brussel sprout - especially one that was boiled to mushy and then roasted to a vague crispness - brings out the iron and sulfur in the vegetable in an unappetizing way. Iron and sulfur content are reasons to eat brussel sprouts. But you want to bring out the sweetness in the sprout rather than a harsh iron and sulfur taste. So cutting them in half or in a chiffonade and cooking them quickly to a just tender state is the best way to bring out that sweetness through caramelization. I truly believe that anyone who doesn’t like brussel sprouts, just hasn’t had them cooked correctly. Let the naysayers see the light by sauteing brussel sprouts with bacon or roasting them with maple syrup. Here’s my quick roasting recipe.
Maple Roasted Brussel Sprouts
About 20 Brussel Sprouts, ends trimmed, cut in half lengthwise,
Olive oil, salt and pepper
About 3 tablespoons of maple syrup
Toss sprouts with some olive oil, place them cut side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast them in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until the cut side is browned and the sprouts are almost tender. Remove from the oven and quickly drizzle the sprouts with the maple syrup. Using a spoon or rubber spatula, carefully stir to coat them with the syrup. Reduce the oven temp to 350 degrees and put them back in the oven for about 10 minutes more, or until the sprouts are tender and browned. Be careful about burning the syrup.