Roast Brussel Sprouts

Item No. 17 of my 2016 Cooking Challenge

Growing up, brussel sprouts, along with squid, were the go-to example of a food all kids found repulsive. As a kid, I thought people were way off with their opinion with squid. I always liked the chewy texture and the salty seafood taste. When it came to brussel sprouts, though, I understood why people didn’t like brussel sprouts. The outer leaves were fine, but the center of each of these sprouts had a bitter metallic taste that seemed to always stand out unpleasantly.

I also avoided brussel sprouts on the basis that I couldn’t get their texture to match a lot of other things I liked to cook. On the other hand, these are some of Deanna’s favorite vegetables and I decided they would be worthy of adding on to the list of things I’d try to make this year.

Thing I Learned #1 – Much like cilantro, there is actually a genetic component to why a lot of people don’t like brussel sprouts… some people get an extra bitter taste from them. That genetic component is called TAS2R38 if anyone cares that much.

This recipe is a simple one, as I think most side dishes should be. It’s never fun to have to get a bunch of ingredients which don’t even amount to an entree. These pair well with turkey, chicken quarters, or even pork chops.

The Process

Preheat the oven to 400º F.

Slice the sprouts into halves. Cut up the bacon strips into small bits.

Arrange the brussel sprouts on a baking sheet or skillet. Sprinkle on the bacon bits and crushed walnuts. Season with minced garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil.

Roast for about 30-40 minutes, until they’re crisp on the outside but tender at the center.

Thing I Learned #2 – This recipe aims to get a mix of textures in one brussel sprout, but if you want sprouts that are consistently cooked, carving a big X in them should help.

Ingredients

1 pound of brussel sprouts

2 strips of bacon

1/4 cup of crushed walnuts

1/4 cup of olive oil

2-3 cloves of minced garlic

1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes

Salt to taste

Black pepper to taste

Step-By-Step

  1. Preheat the oven to 400º F.
  2. Cut the brussel sprouts into halves.
  3. Arrange the
  4. Cut the bacon slices up into small bits.
  5. Sprinkle bacon bits and crushed walnuts over the brussel sprouts.
  6. Sprinkle red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and minced garlic.
  7. Drizzle on olive oil.
  8. Roast in oven for 30-40 minutes, or until outer leaves are crisp and partially browned while centers remain soft.
  9. Season with extra salt and pepper if desired.
Thing I Learned #3 – Belgium may claim a city in the name of brussel sprouts, but it’s neighboring Netherlands that holds the title of largest producer.

Serving This Sucker

As a pretty comprehensive side dish, I found that this matched simple entrees best, like chicken quarters. They also worked well in a dinner bowl.

In The Future

The walnuts could be substituted for other kinds of nuts, and the one I see the most frequently are pine nuts. I probably would have opted for pine nuts if not for their price. Lemon juice would have also been a nice accent on this dish.

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