It’s really a shame that Brussels sprouts have had such a bad reputation. I regretfully admit that I myself have spent the majority of my life pulling up my nose in disgust at the mear mention of them.
I blame the steam bath my Brussels of the past received before ending up on my plate a soggy, flavorless, pile of bleh. Their little cabbage-like bodies rolled around the plate invading the territory of its more edible neighbors and I thought for sure they infected their sodden, yucky-ness onto whatever they had touched.
It wasn’t until Molly introduced me to cream braised Brussles sprouts that I could admit to myself that I did indeed liked Brussels sprouts. In fact because of that recipe I fell in love with them. Now I am kicking myself for those wasted years, making up for lost time and converting others to the Brussels sprouts-loving team.
Which is where this recipe comes in. As much as I adore these little, leafy green orbs bathed in cream I wanted a lighter recipe that would win over the fans. A recipe that would highlight the lightly bitter and sweet flavors that emerge after time spent in a hot oven. One that would show off the magic that happens when their outer leaves are given the opportunity to produce a slight char while their insides retain a pleasant creaminess.
A humble-looking platter of these very Brussels sprouts landed on the table of our Thanksgiving this year. Sitting around the table staring apprehensively in the direction of this dish were the perfect candidates for Team Brussles recruitment – unsure of this leafy green yet eager to try as they had heard me, on numerous occasions, sing its praises.
The ending is a happy one. We now have a few more members to add to the team. If that’s not motivation enough to start pre-heating the oven then I leave you with the words of my 5 year old after his fourth helping of this very dish, “I love Brussels sprouts. They’re my favorite.” No truer words my boy, no truer words.
Brussels Sprouts with White Beans and Pecorino
adapted from November 2005 issue of Bon Appetit
This makes enough to serve four as a side. Or if you are like me, add a crusty loaf of bread to the mix and perhaps a glass of red wine and you have dinner. Feel free to add more salt if you feel it needs it, my Pecorino was delightfully salty and did the job splendidly. Also, it should be said that I go crazy with the cheese here, you may want less.
This dish comes together quickly, creates very little stress and packs a punch of flavor without being overly heavy. For these reasons and many more I think it is the perfect side dish for any holiday table.
1 lb Brussels sprouts, cut in half lengthwise
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon chili flakes (more or less depending on desired heat)
½ cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 can cannellini beans
1 cup Pecorino, finely grated (or less if you feel so inclined)
Pre-heat oven to 400*F. Add the Brussels sprouts to a sheet tray and add the olive and salt. Stir them a round a bit to evenly coat.
Roast for 20-30 minutes until crispy and parts are deep golden in color. Remove from the oven and set aside.
In a large saute pan add the butter and saute the garlic over medium heat until lightly golden around the edges, 2-3 minutes. Add the chili flakes and stock. Stir in the beans and roasted Brussels sprouts and simmer until the stock has reduced to a glaze, about 5-7 minutes. Avoid stirring too much so as not to smash the beans and disrupt the sprouts.
Remove to a serving dish and liberally sprinkle with grated Pecorino.