Mr. Scrumptious and I both are self-professed Brussels Sprouts haters. There aren't many foods I abhor but until about a year ago, this is the only way I'd describe what I felt for Brussels Sprouts. What I didn't know, is how healthy they are! This is the time of year they are abundant in the stores and farmer's markets in the U.S. and so there are lots of people out there cooking them. I realize I'm not alone-- there are many of you who grew up with them boiled and just found them to be awful. Me too.
But last year I went to a fantastic restaurant that completely changed my perceptions about these little veggies related to cabbages. I learned that Brussels Sprouts themselves aren't evil, immersing them in water and then overcooking them is the problem. They become delicious and subtle when they are roasted and even better if roasted to the point of a little crispy smokiness on the outside yet tender inside and especially when balsamic vinegar is involved. In my homage to the dish I had that night, I swore I would make them and give them another chance. I also had some leftover cranberries from the holiday and thought the tartness of the cranberry would work well with the Brussels Sprouts flavor. I added a few other things and remembered to pair it with a good balsamic vinegar. My "Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Cranberries with Sage Balsamic Brown Butter" turned out terrific!
This is also another incredibly easy dish to make, so in this hectic time of year, it's a tasty, healthy and colorful choice to accent your main dish. Here's how I made them:
12-14 fresh Brussel Sprouts, halved
1/4 c. fresh cranberries
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
2 T. unsalted butter
2 fresh sage leaves, whole
1 small shallot, minced
2 tsp. good balsamic vinegar
1. Preheat oven to 400˚F. Wash the Brussels Sprouts and cranberries and let drain in colander. Remove any tough or damaged outer leaves from the sprouts. Cut the stems off and slice in half lengthwise.
2. Arrange the sprouts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, with some cut-side down and some cut-side up. Add the cranberries to the baking sheet. Drizzle them all with the olive oil and season with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Put in the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes, check with a fork, they should be tender inside but not soft.
3. Five minutes before the sprouts are done roasting, add the butter to a small saucepan and melt on low heat. Add in the shallot and sage leaves and increase the heat to medium-high. Let the butter cook and begin to brown and foam, continually swirling the pan for about 4 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar right before the sprouts are done and cook one minute longer. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
4. Remove the sprouts and cranberries from the oven and pour into a serving bowl. Drizzle the balsamic brown butter over the sprouts and berries and toss with a slotted spoon. Taste and add more salt or pepper if necessary.
5. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Remember, that terrible smell we remember from childhood is a result of overcooking and even more malodorous if they aren't extremely fresh. Also, if you overcook them you, yourself will ahem... emit a terrible odor. So, get them very fresh and cook them with gentle care and you will be amazed at the difference.