I went to New York this past weekend to visit my dad. The last time I was there was two Thanksgivings ago, and during that visit he made the best Brussels sprouts I’ve ever had. I’ve been making them at home ever since, but never have been able to come close to the brilliance that is these Brussels sprouts, as made by my dad. Because I cannot stand to keep a good thing to myself, I present you with the recipe. It is dedicated specially to those of you who love cruciferous vegetables but have historically been unsure if you could make the daring switch from the workaday broccoli and the humble cabbage to the awesome power that is the mighty Brussels sprout. This is the perfect recipe for demonstrating that anything is good, if you drown it in olive oil and fry it up in a pan.
So, first start off with the Brussels sprouts you got from your local CSA or you grocery store or farmers’ market. Take them home and cut the ends off and then cut them in half and peel off the outer leaves. You may rinse them quickly at this point of you like but since you just peeled them it’s probably fine to leave them the way they are. Put them in a bowl with some olive oil and a lot of salt and pepper and let them sit for a couple of minutes while you warm up the pan.
Now, the definition of “some” olive oil is up to you. When I tell you that I once saw my father drink half a cup of olive oil at a party for reasons that eluded my then-six-year-old brain, you will understand that for him, “some” means “quite a lot.” As in maybe that exact half-cup I saw him quaff in Queens in the early eighties. This is in addition to the olive oil in which you will be braising the sprouts, and the olive oil that you will potentially feel called upon to drizzle upon them as a condiment. Your skin and hair ought to be very shiny after all this so you can chalk this dish up to beautification as well as nutrition, if you are a multi-tasking type of person.
So now take your cut-in-half Brussels sprouts and shake some of that oil off (or not, it’s completely up to you) and put them, cut side down into a hot pan that has been liberally coated with some more olive oil. Cover the pan for a while, at least ten minutes, and just let the brossies sit there, caramelizing. The cut sides will turn black. This is what you want. Take the cover off the pan and check them out…they should be bright green and very tender (except for the black part, which obviously will be crispy and delicious). Let them cook for another couple of minutes with the cover off and keep checking for tenderness and attendant crispness. Having made these sprouts many times I can tell you that there are lots of ways to mess them up…they can bee too bouncy or not crispy enough or too mushy or whatever, so for that last couple of minutes you should keep a good eye on them. Don’t stand too close to the pan though or maybe all that oil will spit and fizzle right on your face, not that I am speaking from personal experience or anything.
When they are done, put them back in a bowl and make sure they are as salty and as peppery as you like. Eat them with a fork, a spoon, or with your fingers like popcorn. I can tell you from recent experience that these delicious, oil-rich Brussels sprouts go well with sad musings about parents, unusual amounts of TV consumption, a trip to Prada (without buying anything, of course) and Dean & Deluca (shook hands with Mr. Deluca!) in New York City, hand-wringing about the second Presidential debates and the ensuing spin, fall colors in upstate New York, the constant presence of heavy Italian-American accents, and a nice roast chicken with red potatoes.