Sunday, November 30, 2008

Great Success

I'm happy to report that my Thanksgiving Brussels sprouts were a great success. I've made it my mission the past few years to contribute a green to the turkey day table -- something to cut through the heavy, goopy starchfest that dominates (not that I don't love the heavy, goopy starches!). Last year, I did Brussels sprouts, in an attempt to convert the people who still give the cute little guys dirty looks as the words "vile green slimeballs" run through their heads. But I failed -- they were undercooked and just not that good.

But this year was a win! I took inspiration from a couple recipes, then simplified and added my own twists. I knew the key was to brown the little guys, bringing out the sweetness in their outer leaves, but for the technical details of making this happen, I consulted a recipe from David Chang, of the crazy popular Momofuku restaurants in New York (in fact, that whole recipe, while not very evocative of Thanksgiving, looks amazing. I'll have to try it another time). He didn't let me down: 45 minutes at 450 degrees may sound extreme, but it's perfect. And from this Smitten Kitchen recipe, I passed on the goopy veloute sauce, but took the brown butter: after all, it's one of the most delicious flavors in the world. I added hazelnuts and sage -- I love them both with brown butter -- and there we have it. As promised, here's the recipe.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Brown Butter and Sage

You can make this ahead, then reheat it in a warm oven, uncovered, for about fifteen minutes. Next time, I'm going to try pecans instead of hazelnuts.

3 lb Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, halved lengthwise
olive oil
salt and pepper
1-1/2 sticks ( 3/4 cup) butter
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
about 10 sage leaves, thinly sliced
3/4 cup roasted hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 450F. In a large baking pan, toss Brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a light sprinkling of sugar. Arrange them cut side down, and roast until outer leaves are well browned and sprouts are fork-tender throughout, around 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until it has a medium-brown color and smells toasted. Stir in shallots and sage and cook for one more minute. Add hazelnuts, cook one minute more, then remove from heat.

Toss roasted sprouts with brown butter mixture in a large bowl. Adjust seasoning.

Makes about 10 servings.


  1. I have to admit these were pretty yummy. Maybe you could use a little less butter and cook it in a bigger pan to get more toasty flavor?

  2. Hi Tannaz,

    Thanks for the recipe. I've been disappointed with my own recipes for Brussels Sprouts currently and have been looking for an improvement. :) I can't wait to try this myself.

  3. you know tor, the butter was pretty toasty. I don't think the size of the pan matters so much: because it's butter, even if it's not touching the pan, it's frying -- it's like you're deep frying it! you could probably use less butter and get away with it, but i was hedging my bets for deliciousness after last year's fail. you could probably use less if you were making it for a regular, non-special-occasion meal, though, for 3 pounds of brussels sprouts, it's actually not that much butter.

    Exile Kiss, you're welcome -- this one works well. Although I'm eager to try the David Chang recipe -- fish sauce, five-spice and all!