Saturday, January 23, 2010

Rustle up some Brussels, sprouts that is


Back to my regularly scheduled post about a wonderful if not somewhat maligned vegetable, Brussels sprouts. I read on one of my friends posts that she had stuck to her new years resolution to try Brussels sprouts and was surprised to find she liked them. I actually did like them as a kid. Can't say they were as favored as, say asparagus, but I certainly liked them more than regular cooked cabbage. That was of course before I discovered Savoy cabbage, but that is a different story for a different day.
This combination of sprouts, mini onions and whole chestnuts is done in the classic and very popular tradition of what is called agrodolce, a sweet and vinegary way of adding a touch of pizzaz to a wide range of foods. There are a variety of types of Agrodolce and that take into consideration personal tastes and is so second nature to Italians, that the recipe from "Sale & Pepe" magazine, didn't bother to give any kind of amounts or proportions. If you don't have chestnuts available or prefer some other combination, I think mini carrots or parsnips would be a nice addition or substitution. The strong flavor of the sprouts and onions pairs well with the vinegar and  brown sugar. If this combination doesn't appeal, you can fall back on my most favorite way with Brussels, which is to toss the hot and freshly cooked sprouts into some coarse ground prepared mustard, just to coat and you're good to go. 

Brussels Sprouts and Chestnuts in Agrodolce (Vedure e Castagne in Agrodolce)

300g peeled, pearl onions (10-12oz)
300g brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed, left whole and scored at the base with an x to cook faster, or if they are large, cut them in half (10-12oz)
200g chestnuts, whole cooked (7-8 oz)
40g Olive oil, or a combination of butter and oil or just butter (3Tb- 1.5oz)
1-2 T Brown sugar, I used a demerara, with fine sugar you might use 1 T
1/2 -1 c or glass as they say here in Italy hot water
4 T Vinegar, more or less to taste., white wine, apple or balsamic, young not an aged one I used a combination of apple and balsamic
  • Bring a post of lightly salted water to a boil and drop your peeled onions in, boil for 5 minutes. You want them to turn slightly translucent but to still maintain some firmness. Remove and allow to drain on the side.
  • Drop your brussels sprouts into the same water and again boil approximately 5 minutes. I like them to be al dente. They both will cook longer a little later. Again remove sprouts and allow to drain.
  • Heat your oil or butter, in a saute pan that will fit all of your vegetables and and chestnuts.
  • Add the brown sugar and heat to disolve the sugar. Keep your heat low.
  • Add the onions and shake to coat and cook till they start to carmelize slightly.
  • Add your cooked peeled chestnuts. Mix to coat
  • Add your brussels sprouts and stir to coat.
  • Add hot water as you need it to make a sauce to simmer it all in, but not water log 
  • Cover and let simmer 15-20 minutes however done ou like your veggies.
  • Add your vinegar till you reach the right note of sweet and vinegary.
  • Adjust amounts of oil and vinegar if you need more liquid to cover all or to get the correct balance
  • Serve
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