The Only Way to Eat Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts are a staple at my family’s Christmas Dinner table. Those little green bundles have been passed right under my (reluctant up-turned) nose for the past 30 something years and I had all but given up on them until recently when I was in a restaurant ordering conundrum. While dining out for the Hubby’s birthday at South Congress Cafe in Austin (for more about that day read here), I was really craving scallops but the ones on the menu were being served on a bed of my holiday nemesis. The description read ‘crispy Brussels Sprouts’ (not boiled and mushy) and I was desperate enough that I looked at the server (probably with pleading in my watery eyes) asking him if these green buggers were really worth the rest of the dish. He assured me that they bore no comparison to my idea of sprouts and that the scallops were amazing…..so (after taking a deep breath) I couldn’t resist and went for it. One of the best restaurant decisions I have made! They were completely delicious and I kept talking about  them to John for days so it is no wonder that they ended up on  the menu for our Easter Sunday dinner. I couldn’t really find an exact recipe so I decided to just try and recapture the magic from the original description at South Congress (‘crispy brussels sprouts, bacon, lemon basil brown butter’) and some creativity.

Crispy Brussels Sprouts

Crispy Brussels Sprouts

1lb Brussels Sprouts

2 tbsp butter

2 strips of bacon (cooked and chopped into small pieces)

1 shallot sliced thinly

1 small clove of garlic, minced

squeeze of lemon juice

1/4 tsp of dried basil

oil for frying (about 3 cups)

salt and pepper to taste

Rinse the sprouts and thoroughly pat dry. Trim off ends, peal away a couple of the outer leaves and then cut in half (if you need a visual there are several helpful videos on YouTube). Make sure they are completely dry.

Brussels SproutsBrussels Sprouts

Heat your oil to 350 F. Place a few sprouts on a slotted spoon and lower into the heated oil. Cover the fryer immediately to avoid being splattered with oil. The sprouts contain a high amount of water and they will start popping under the lid. Also, do not put too many in at once or there will be too much water released into the oil and they will burn before it is safe to open the lid. (We discovered this the hard way…needless to say I was a bit nervous because I didn’t completely know what I was doing and geared up for protection….think hazmat with a spatula! After doing the second batch as per my above directions, it was really easy and completely fine!) Cook each batch for about 3-4 minutes (you will hear the popping coming to an end) Remove with a slotted spoon and drain well on kitchen paper before transferring onto a serving dish. You will probably need to cook the sprouts in about 4-5 batches.

Melt the butter in a pan. Brown the shallots and garlic in the butter then add the cooked bacon, and sprinkle with basil, salt and pepper. Mix well. Pour over the sprouts and then squirt a little lemon juice over top.

It was delicious and transported me back to that surprising discovery at South Congress! (The hubs said he liked it even better than the original ones we ate in Austin….but he is a little biased!) They were the perfect accompaniment to our Easter meal of Whiskey Stew, Yorkshire Puddings and Roasted Parsnips.

Easter DinnerCrispy Brussels Sprouts

I can’t wait for my next dinner party to sport these sprouts!

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Pinteresting Easter Monday!

This was the first holiday John and I have spent alone and although that makes it sound like a sad occasion, it was actually by choice. The most exciting part of this decision was the chance to cook an entire special meal from start to finish. Usually, because we are with family, we just contribute a side dish or dessert so, despite all my cooking and baking experience, I have never been the person solely responsible for an all out holiday meal until yesterday. We talked through some options, looked over Pinterest, recalled some of the best dishes from our favourite restaurants, and came up with a menu: Whiskey Beef Stew with Yorkshire Puddings, Roasted Parsnips and Crunchy Lemon Basil Brussels Sprouts. 

Easter Dinner

The first part of our meal was a recipe I came across on Pinterest so I have decided to share it with you all for Pinteresting Easter Monday. I am not usually a fan of stews and pot roasts so for me to actually find one I love is a big deal!. What really struck me about this recipe was the whisky (need I say more?) and Yorkshire puddings (which to me are synonymous with holiday meals). Once we had settled on this recipe, it seemed only natural to go in the way of a British theme so Parsnips and Brussels Sprouts were quickly added to the menu. For the parsnips, I just roasted them with some olive oil, salt and pepper for 45 minutes in a 375 F oven. As amazing as the stew was, and as much as we love parsnips, the real star of the show ended up being the Brussels Sprouts which I will share with you more thoroughly later this week as they deserve a post entirely their own. In the meantime, here is the original recipe for the stew with my notes in bold.

Whiskey, Beef and Mushroom Stew in a Yorkshire Pudding Bowl  (from Elizabeth’s Kitchen)

Whiskey Beef Stew with Mushrooms and Potatoes

Serves 2 (I actually found that this will serve more like 4 people)

400g (1 lb) stewing beef or casserole steak, cubed
flour
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
oil for frying 
2 onions, thickly sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 heaped tsp paprika
1 tsp dried herbs de provence (this is typically a mixture of Rosemary, Thyme, Fennel Seed and sometimes Lavendar. I just used Rosemary and Thyme)
1 bay leaf
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
13 button mushrooms, cleaned
70ml (about a quarter cup) whisky 
1 pint beef stock (2 cups)

Mix flour with salt & pepper. Dredge meat cubes, shake off excess and set aside. Heat oil in a frying pan and fry beef in batches until each side is seared. Remove with a slotted spoon and place into a large pot. Fry onions and garlic in the oil until the onions soften.  Stir in paprika and fry a further minute. Transfer to the pot. Add potato, mushrooms and remaining herbs. Pour whiskey and stock into the frying pan and bring to the boil, scraping up all the little bits on the bottom. Transfer to the pot. Cook on a medium heat for at least an hour. Alternatively, cook in a slow cooker for 8 hours on low. When the meat is tender thicken with some cornflour if desired, although I feel it’s perfect just as is. I decided I didn’t want to dirty two pans so after dredging the meat, I seared it in my deep non-stick pan with 1 tbsp olive oil. I removed the meat and softened the onions in the same oil. I put the meat back in with the onions, added the mushrooms, potatoes and remaining spices, deglazed with the whiskey and then added the stock. It simmered in this same pan for 1 hour.  

Serve with Yorkshire puddings.

300ml full fat milk (1 1/4 cups)
4 eggs
pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper
250g plain flour, sifted (1 cup)
dripping

Whisk together milk, eggs, salt and pepper and leave to stand for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat your dishes with dripping in the oven until very, very hot. I used an 18cm Le Cruset pan to make the Yorkshire ‘bowl’. Stir flour into the egg/milk mixture and pour into the very hot pan.  (I don’t have this size pan so I just made smaller puddings in a muffin pan with a tbsp of drippings/oil and -once hot- 3/4 full of batter ) Bake for 20 minutes. 

Whiskey Beef Stew with Mushrooms and Potatoes There are several reasons why you should try this stew:

1) it’s easy and delicious

2) whiskey…but seriously though!

3) it can be adapted for the crock pot making it even easier

4) it will make your house smell amazing while it’s bubbling away

5) except for the whiskey (depending on your pantry), it is really quite inexpensive, hearty and all the ingredients are probably sitting in your fridge and cupboard at this very moment!