Don't let me whine, but if there's one thing wrong with Thanksgiving vegetables, it's that so many recipes are laden with butter and cream and cheese and bacon and aloy! sugar. This means that if there are several vegetables on the table, they all sort of taste the same: rich and indulgent.
So I always like to make sure that there's at least one vegetable on the table that is spare and simple and yet totally full of flavor.
These Brussels sprouts are a perfect candidate, dressed in a simple vinaigrette with lovely flavors.
RECIPE for BRUSSELS SPROUTS with MAPLE & WALNUT VINAIGRETTE
Time to table: 30 minutes
Serves 8 (big servings, likely 16 for big Thanksgiving meals)
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and Xd
4 tablespoons sherry vinegar (lovely tasting stuff, this)
4 tablespoons maple syrup (use Grade B, yes B, for the most flavor)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons walnut oil (the inspiring recipe called for 8 tablespoons, to my taste, 4 tablespoons is plenty rich)
Freshly ground nutmeg
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
Bring water to a boil. Add sprouts to water, cover and cook for about 10 minutes (for small sprouts) or 15 (for large) or until a knife can be inserted easily into the center. (There's a fine line between under- and over-cooking Brussels sprouts. The more cooked they are, the easier it is for the vinaigrette to penetrate, so I err to the more-cooked version. Then again, I'm scarred for life from once serving Brussels sprouts so undercooked they rocketed across the room at the sign of a knife.) Drain and return to hot pan.
Whisk vinaigrette ingredients together. Toss hot sprouts with a portion of the vinaigrette, you may not need it all and it makes a great salad dressing too. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with walnuts.
NOTE: For every day, I'd follow my standard proportions of 1 pound of vegetables to 1 tablespoon of oil and in this case, use a splash of maple syrup and a dollop of mustard -- and skip the nuts.
TO PREP AHEAD
NUTS Toast the nuts 1 - 2 days in advance
VINAIGRETTE Mix 1 - 2 days ahead, then re-whisk before using.
SPROUTS Wash, trim and X the sprouts day before or morning of (if done day before, I think I'd spritz and cover with a damp paper towel until ready to cook)
LEFTOVER REPORT These reheat beautifully and so make for great Thanksgiving leftovers.
HOW MANY BRUSSELS SPROUTS IN A POUND? There are about 50 tiny sprouts in a pound, only 17 - 20 large ones in a pound.
HOW TO TRIM BRUSSELS SPROUTS Wash the sprouts under running water. Slice off the stem end about 1/4 way into the sprout, then remove the outer leaves. Check to see that the remaining sprout is completely clean and the leaves unblemished, if not wash again and remove another layer of outer leaves. With a sharp knife, cut an X into the stem end, this helps the interior core cook at the same rate as the outer leaves.
Buy Brussels sprouts of roughly equivalent size so they cook evenly.
Frozen Brussels sprouts are -- okay -- but nothing close to fresh (and I promise, I love frozen vegetables in general)
To salt water for boiling vegetables, Epicurious recommends a scant teaspoon of table salt (more if you only have the less salty sea salt) per quart (four cups) of water but I use about double that
A good cook-ahead trick for any vegetables cooked or steamed in water: bring the water to a boil ahead of time, say 30 minutes or so, then cover and turn off the fire. When you're ready to bring the water to boil for real, it'll take far less time.
featured in 2006
~ Brussels Sprouts with Apricot Glaze ~
~ Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta & Garlic ~
~ Wine-Glazed Brussels Sprouts ~
~ Lemony Creamy Brussels Sprouts & Celery ~
~ more Brussels sprouts recipes ~
~ more Thanksgiving vegetable recipes ~
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