Few foods have experienced as dramatic an image transformation as Brussels sprouts. For decades, they were maligned as invariably mushy, smelly, and unappealing; these days, you can barely find a hip restaurant that doesn't serve them. It's easy to see why: When cooked correctly, these little brassicas have a wonderfully sweet and nutty flavor. That, plus the fact that they're in season in fall and winter, makes them a great candidate for adding to your Thanksgiving spread.
If you have relatives or friends who are stuck in their old Brussels sprout–hating ways, we've got all the recipes you'll need to change their minds—roasted sprouts with balsamic vinegar, fried ones with shallots and chilies, a rich and creamy Brussels sprout gratin, and more.
There are plenty of ways to cook Brussels sprouts, but one of the easiest and most rewarding is to simply toss them with salt, pepper, and oil and roast them in a hot oven. When I say hot, I mean it—crank it up to 500°F (260°C) to crisp the sprouts and give them a nutty sweetness. Lower temperatures will bring out those unpleasant sulfurous flavors that earned Brussels sprouts such a bad rap in the past.
Roasted according to our method, Brussels sprouts are tasty enough with nothing more than olive oil, salt, and pepper. But it's also easy to dress them up by incorporating additional ingredients. In this recipe for roasted Brussels sprouts, we add sliced shallots and balsamic vinegar; the latter turns into a tart glaze when it hits the hot pan.
Brussels sprouts and cured pork were practically made for each other—bacon or pork belly is an obvious choice, but I'm particularly fond of paprika-scented Spanish chorizo. Here, we sauté the chorizo with shallots, then drain the cooking oil onto the sprouts and roast them. Once they come out of the oven, we mix everything back together, toss it with sherry vinegar and honey, and serve.
This recipe pairs sprouts and pork, too, subbing bacon for chorizo, adding crunchy toasted pecans, and dressing it all with a vinaigrette flavored with maple syrup and balsamic vinegar. Be warned: These are so good, you might eat them all in the kitchen before they make it to the table.
If you're looking for a less traditional take, you'll be amazed at how well roasted sprouts work when paired with funky kimchi and fish sauce and pungent ginger. Acidic rice wine vinegar and just a little sweet honey round out the flavors, and chopped mint adds a hit of freshness.
Roasted Brussels sprouts are delicious, but deep-frying is arguably an even tastier way to prepare them. Hot oil is perfect for bringing out the nutty flavor of the sprouts and leaving them with crispy nooks and crannies, perfect for soaking up sauces, like a sweet-and-tangy dressing made with honey and balsamic vinegar.
Where the last recipe uses honey to play up the sweetness of roasted Brussels sprouts, this one leans heavily toward the savory side, dressing the sprouts with a blend of fish sauce, ginger, lime, cilantro, and Thai bird chilies. Be warned that bird chilies are brutally spicy; if you don't think your family (or you) will be able to handle them, swap in a jalapeño or serrano instead.
Searing Brussels sprouts in a hot pan gets them super crispy, and it requires neither the time commitment of roasting nor the mess of deep-frying. Though you can sear them in oil, we prefer to cook cured pork (in this case, lardons of bacon) in the skillet first, then use the rendered fat for the sprouts. Try adding other ingredients, too, if you like—we like throwing in sweet shallots.
We love Brussels sprouts in a salad, too, but because the leaves are fairly tough, we usually prefer to cook them first. Here, we char the separated leaves in rendered bacon fat and dress them with a vinaigrette of the bacon fat, sherry vinegar, lightly crushed hazelnuts, and honey.
Salt-wilting is a great alternative to cooking for tenderizing Brussels sprout leaves. This salad gets the perfect texture from a combination of raw and wilted sprouts, which we mix with crunchy toasted hazelnuts, creamy goat cheese, and a citrusy tangerine vinaigrette.
Roasting with bacon and deep-frying aren't exactly light treatments for Brussels sprouts, but if you want to make your sprouts dish even more of a gut-buster, Thanksgiving is the time to do it. This rib-sticking gratin loads up the sprouts with bacon (browned in butter for a smoky flavor), heavy cream, and shredded cheese. Helpfully, the entire dish can be prepared at the beginning of the week, then baked just before dinner on Thanksgiving Day.
You may well be familiar with squash lasagna, but squash isn't the only vegetable that makes a good base for a Thanksgiving-appropriate version of this dish. Shredded Brussels sprouts add plenty of flavor and vibrant color to a lasagna, and they're particularly good when layered with mushroom duxelles and white sauce. Like the gratin, this dish can be prepared almost entirely in advance.
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