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Thursday, October 02, 2008

roasted brussels sprouts

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Here in Anchorage, we’ve been scraping ice off our windshields the last couple of mornings. Although the days this past week have been gorgeous (brilliant yellow leaves against an intensely blue sky), it’s a bittersweet beauty. Winter is coming soon, and each week we’re losing noticeable amounts of daylight.

But all that aside—it’s time to rejoice, because THE BRUSSELS SPROUTS ARE IN! At least for those of us who have learned to roast fresh, sweet Alaskan Brussels sprouts in a blazing hot oven, it’s grounds for celebration!

Yes, yes, I know—I can already hear you telling me that you hate Brussels sprouts. And if they are old, dried-out specimens, overcooked to a sulfuric and sloppy mess, I hate them too. But they don’t have to be that way!  A fresh stalk of Brussels sprouts, each sprout halved (the largest quartered), then the whole bowlful tossed with olive oil and salt and then roasted at 450 degrees on a hot baking sheet…  this makes one of the most divine dishes known to humankind. Maybe hard to believe, but I’m telling you, it will make a meal in itself…  You’ll be eating sprouts like popcorn—like potato chips—like CRAZY!!  You’ll be fighting your kids for them. (I had to go a few rounds with Meredith at dinner tonight to get my fair share.)

If you can get Brussels sprouts, especially if they are still on the stalk, plump and firm and round, you’re halfway there. Then just make sure to be ready to eat them when they come out of the oven, because they are absolutely divine JUST out of the oven. Crispy and sweet and savory all at once. Please try this easiest of recipes if you can find good Brussels sprouts. And then let me know how you liked them!

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roasted brussels sprouts

I know that brussels sprouts are not usually the most popular vegetable, but our fresh Alaskan sprouts are so sweet and delicious that you just have to give them a try! Anyway, how can you resist them when the farmers bring the gorgeous green stalks to the market bursting with plump round sprouts? Serve these as an appetizer or as a side to just about anything!

1 or 2 large stalks of Brussels sprouts
extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt or kosher salt

1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Coat 1 or 2 large baking sheets (you’ll probably need 2) with non-stick spray or oil (that makes clean-up a lot easier).
2. If the sprouts break off easily, break them off with your fingers. If not, use a small paring knife to cut each sprout off the stalk. Cut the largest ones in half (and if they are really big, quarter them), but leave the smallest ones whole. Put them all in a large bowl.
3. Drizzle 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil over the sprouts, and sprinkle with salt (about ½ teaspoon per pound—to your taste). Mix them all up until they are coated with olive oil, and then pour them onto your baking sheets. Make sure that they are only in a single layer, and not too crowded, so they roast instead of steam. Make sure a cut surface of each sprout is touching the baking sheet (this makes them brown really nicely).
4. Roast them until the cores inside the sprouts are tender when poked with a paring knife and they are brown on the bottom where they touch the baking sheet. This might take 15 to 20 minutes or so, depending on their size, but maybe longer. Just keep checking them!


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