FAIRBANKS — A stalk of fresh Brussels sprouts is a commodity to be treasured.
The leafy green that is a relative of cabbage, broccoli, collard greens, kale and kohlrabi is one of the slowest growing vegetables you can plant in your garden, which makes the wait for a fall harvest seem much longer than it is. I’ve never had luck growing Brussels sprouts, so my dependence for fresh stalks comes from vendors selling their autumn wares across Fairbanks.
Occasionally, you can find sprouts still on the stalk at local grocery stores, and while sprouts on the stalk are far superior to sprouts sold in bulk or frozen sprouts, I’ll take what I can find. I’m a fan, and Brussels sprouts are one of my favorites.
When preparing them, I usually don’t get too fancy. My favorite method is roasted in the oven with sea salt and olive oil, under a hot oven at about 400 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring every 7 to 10 minutes until slightly charred and the sprouts are fork-tender. Roasting is a great method to enhance the buttery, nutty taste of the sprouts. Other quick methods are to slice the sprouts in half and sauté with garlic in a little bacon grease reserved after cooking bacon, then crumbling the bacon over the garlic and sprouts when serving. I also love fresh sprouts steamed and served tossed in butter and garlic salt.
Because I don’t go too all-out with my sprouts, I took to social media to talk about love of — or dislike of, depending on your taste — the Brussels sprout. Readers offered plenty of ideas and tips for the vegetable, proving that it is a fall favorite for many in Alaska.
There’s more than roasting for this autumn favorite.
Karen Wilken of Fairbanks offered this roasted Brussels sprouts recipe she found in Food and Wine magazine a few years ago. “It’s super savory and easy to make,” she writes. “It’s become a staple. It doesn’t call for pancetta or bacon, but we sometimes slip in those pork bits.”
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Capers, Walnuts and Anchovies
3 pounds Brussels sprouts, quartered
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup walnuts
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons capers, rinsed and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 shallots, minced
One 2-ounce tin of anchovies, drained and minced
Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a large bowl, toss the Brussels sprouts with 1/4 cup of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread the Brussels sprouts on 2 large rimmed baking sheets and roast for about 45 minutes, stirring once or twice, until tender and charred in spots; shift the pans halfway through roasting. Spread the walnuts in a pie plate and toast for about 8 minutes, until golden. Let cool, then coarsely chop the nuts.
In the large bowl, whisk the vinegar with the mustard and honey. Whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup of oil until emulsified. Add the capers, garlic, shallots and anchovies; season with salt and pepper. Add the Brussels sprouts and walnuts and toss well. Serve.
“I’ve made both of the ones listed. Obviously they’re good because my 7-year-old daughter requests Brussels sprouts. I also just sauté them, cut side down in a pan with coconut oil, salt and pepper, then add a splash of balsamic vinegar at the end, cover for a few moments and go.”
— Erin Wartes, Fairbanks
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Balsamic Vinegar
“Asparagus to Zucchini Cookbook”
1 pound Brussels sprouts
1/4 pound bacon, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped onions or shallots
1-2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Trim ends off the Brussels sprouts and halve the large ones. Blanch in boiling water or steam over boiling water until just tender. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking and preserve the bright green color, then drain well. Meanwhile, cook bacon until crisp and drain on paper towels. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of bacon grease from pan. Add onion; cook until brown. Add Brussels sprouts, butter, vinegar, salt, pepper and bacon. Toss until hot.
Sautéed Brussels Sprouts and Cabbage with Toasted Almonds and Shallots
2 cups of Brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced in half
2 cups of red cabbage, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons of grapeseed (or another high-heat oil)
1/4 cup of slivered almonds
1/4 cup of diced shallots
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
Heat 2 tablespoons of the grapeseed oil in a cast iron pan oven medium-high heat. Add the Brussels sprouts (I like to start them off cut-side down). Cook the sprouts for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they start to brown.
While the sprouts are cooking, heat the remaining tablespoon of grapeseed oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add the shallots. Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes until clear and then add in the almonds and garlic. Cook for another 3 to 5 minutes until everything starts to brown, but be careful not to burn the almonds or garlic. Remove from the heat.
Once the sprouts have started to brown, add the red cabbage and continue to sauté until the cabbage is tender. Turn off the heat and add the toasted almonds and shallots. Give it a good toss and then season with salt and pepper. Serve warm.
Serves 6-8 as a side dish.
Raleigh Johnson of Fairbanks makes both of these, with the roasted pork dish being the easier and quicker of the two, he writes, adding that the first recipe is often reserved for special occasions.
Brussels Sprouts in Maple Cream
1/2 pound thick-cut bacon, cut in 1/4-inch pieces
36 Brussels sprouts, trimmed, with outer two leaves removed, and halved
2 teaspoons sea salt
12 chestnuts (roasted and peeled, broken into chunks)
3 garlic cloves, minced
6 sprigs thyme
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup real maple syrup
In a large sauté pan or cast-iron skillet, render the bacon over medium heat until it is a rich brown. With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate, leaving the rendered fat in the pan. Toss the sprouts in the pan, season with sea salt, and cook in the bacon fat over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the chestnuts and continue cooking for 4 minutes. Sprinkle in the garlic and thyme, and cook for another 3 minutes. Pour in the cream, and reduce by half. Season to taste. Add the bacon, pour in the maple syrup and give a squeeze of lemon juice. Cook, stirring, for another couple of minutes, and serve.
Roasted Pork With Shredded Brussels Sprouts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pork tenderloin (1 and 1/4 pounds)
kosher salt and black pepper
12 ounces Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
2 tablespoons roasted unsalted almonds, chopped
Heat oven to 400°F. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Season the pork with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, turning occasionally, until browned, 6 to 8 minutes.
Transfer the skillet to the oven. Roast the pork until cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Let rest before slicing.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a second large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the Brussels sprouts, apricots, almonds, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, tossing, until the Brussels sprouts are just tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve the Brussels sprouts with the pork.
Slice them in half and parboil them to get them lightly cooked. Melt about 1 tablespoon of butter per serving in a large wok or sauté pan and cook the sprouts over medium-high heat (if you let the butter cook a bit first, you get a brown butter flavor in the final product). Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard per serving in a small bowl and stir to combine well. When the sprouts are starting to char a bit on the outside and the cut edges, pour in the butter-Dijon sauce and cook a few more minutes, stirring to coat the sprouts.
— Mary Bellamy, Anchorage
Vegetarian Brussels Sprouts Sauté
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 yellow onion
1 yellow pepper
1 orange pepper
6 large mushrooms
1 stalk Brussels sprouts, pulled of the stem
Sauté the garlic and onion with sea salt and pepper, ground ginger and Sriracha (optional). Add in Brussels. Cook about 6 minutes. Add peppers, then mushrooms. Cook another 6 minutes. Then pour a flavored vinegar over everything, cover and reduce heat to steam those yummies.
— Ayana Clark, Fairbanks