Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Playing with Brussels Sprouts

Neither Bob nor I celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday (I am Jewish, Bob is Agnostic). However, we cannot resist the goodies the season brings to the local grocery store (in our case, the Pittsburgh-based chain Giant Eagle). We try to avoid all of the stores the last few days before the big event, so it was Saturday that found us wandering the aisles, seeking culinary inspiration for the days when the stores would be either mobbed or closed.

Our quest was satisfied on the very first aisle - the produce aisle. We found that most rare product - in-tact stalks of brussels sprouts. They are so rare here that no one around the check out area even knew how to charge for them! (They wound up charging us by weight, the same price as charged for the loose sprouts.) But what a difference either from the round cardboard container, or worse, the loose pile of sprouts, which are inevitably wilted or moldy.

We had considered a frozen duck, since it would have a couple of days to thaw, but stopped - you should pardon the expression - dead, in the fresh meat department, when we saw that there was one whole leg of lamb left. We picked up some fresh-from-Louisiana yams, and we were good to go!

I had been hoping to try Iron Chef Michael Symon's recipe for Brussels Sprouts, which he was kind enough to share on his blog, Symon Says. How can anything with bacon and pecans be bad??

As the afternoon waned on a sunny Christmas Day, we set to work. The first order of business was to separate the sprouts from the stalk, and to weigh them so we'd be able to proportionalize the recipe.

Bob had way too much fun during this process.

Trimmed up and quartered - we had about 3 pounds of sprouts. Grateful that we had bought a full pound of bacon (the recipe called for one pound sprouts to .25 pound bacon), I pulled out ingredients for the sprouts while Bob went to work and prepped the lamb. He did a spice rub inspired by an Emeril recipe and got the meat into the oven, together with a large yam.

I waited for the first 20 minutes of roast time, then got back to work on the sprouts. Bob had brought some parsley in from the garden, and we prepped it up. Yes, we still have parsley in our garden in December - sweet!

Brussels Sprouts Quarters Caramelizing in Fresh Roll Butter

I also added kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Full One Pound of Bacon Crisping

Crisped Bacon with Chopped Pecans, Garlic, Onion, Ripe Garden Jalapeno, Salt & Black Pepper

The mixture generates a beautiful fond; yes my friend Linda, this is an All Clad Chef's Pan. The pan deglazed beautifully with the addition of stock and lemon juice.

Thank you, Michael Symon, for sharing this yummy recipe!

And even though this post is about playing with Brussels Sprouts - here are a couple of shots of our Leg of Lamb, which went perfectly with the Sprouts:

I wished I had photographed the yam - we had gotten them directly from the shipping box and they looked marvelously fresh. Bob simply washed it and put it in the pan where the lamb roasted - I expected it to dry out before it would cook. But it came out tender and tasty - all in all, a perfect meal!

I hope that everyone out there played with good food yesterday, and that you will have more fun with your food at New Year's next week!

But before I go - a quick edit to add photos of Bob's extraordinary Lamb Gravy!

It is wonderfully spicy, thanks to the Chili Rub! And - since I had added a tad too much mustard to the sprouts - I smoothed it out with a spoonful of Ohio Honey. Even when it's done, I can't help playing with my food some more!

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