Did you guys hear about Boaty McBoatface? Allow me to summarize: the Brits are christening a new research ship, and someone had the brilliant idea to let the internet vote on the name. They had some suuuuper British proposals to get things started (Shackleton, Endeavour, Falcon) but the internet, being who he is, was like "I know what we're gonna call that there ship: R.R.S. Boaty McBoatface." As it stands now, R.R.S. Boaty McBoatface is the clear winner of the contest. Describing exactly how hilarious I find this is a serious literary challenge. I can't think about this story without laughing. I get the "stop giggling it's not that funny" giggles that you get when you're trying to stop laughing at something but you just cannot...like when you're in a very crowded meeting, or a classroom, and you're delirious and it's too funny to stop the giggling and your face hurts and you have to look at the wall and hold your breath and GET AHOLD OF YOURSELF, WOMAN. Boaty McBoatface. Laughter is the most important thing, friends.
The second most important thing is these brussels sprouts. And if you think you don't like brussels sprouts I'm going to sit you down at my table and put a steaming plate of these bad boys in front of you and force you to eat one, and your mind will be changed. Just like that. They make your whole house smell good and they taste like vegetable candy (<---that sounds gross but it's not because they're amazing). I served these at Dan's birthday dinner and I could tell everyone was like "why would you make me eat brussels sprouts" as they put three little pieces on their plates to be polite, but without fail every person was like "oh wow, these are really good." Including the children! Even the child who hates vegetables with a fiery and indignant passion. Magic, I tell you.
Shoot, I haven't even told you the flavor of the brussels sprouts yet. These are apple cider brussels sprouts. The inspiration for this recipe came from a dish I had in a restaurant in Madison last fall, and they served them with bits of bacon and melty lumps of goat cheese. That was pretty heavenly, but they can hold their own without all that decoration. Here's what you need:
Spiced Apple Cider Brussels Sprouts
2 cups of spiced apple cider (or 2 cups of pressed apple juice with 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp nutmeg added)
3 small bags (or one larger bag) of brussels sprouts (about nine cups)
Avocado oil (olive oil would also work)
1. Pour your apple cider into a small saucepan and place it over medium heat. You're going to simmer the cider until it's reduced to a thick, syrupy, almost caramel-y consistency. At first you can just let it come to a simmer and leave it alone, but as it reduces more you're going to need to stir so it doesn't burn.
2. While the apple cider is getting started, preheat your oven to 375F. Trim your brussels sprouts if needed (if they're looking really rough you can pull off the outside leaves and trim the bottom--sometimes I do this, sometimes I just use them as they come, depending on what sort of shape they're in). Cut each brussels sprout in half and put them on a baking sheet.
3. Toss the brussels sprouts with a few glugs of avocado oil (enough to coat them) and sprinkle generously with salt. When you toss the sprouts in the oil, some of the outside leaves will separate--that's ok, those leaves will get burnt and crispy, which is delicious. Put your cookie sheets in the preheated oven to roast.
4. Check on your apple cider, which should be bubbling away at this point, when it starts to look like the liquid level has gone down, start stirring the apple cider (I like to use a rubber spatula to stir). Keep stirring and simmering until the apple cider has thickened to the consistency of honey, and when you stir with the spatula it parts for a second before running back together.
If you haven't played around with reducing juices (or liquids in general) there's going to come a time where you're stirring and you think, "Mine isn't working--I don't know what this blogger is talking about, this will never be the consistency of honey." PRESS ON through that moment, my love. It takes a while (like, maybe 40 minutes) but it will happen, and the wait will be worth it. If your apple cider doesn't look like Aunt Jemima's syrup, you ain't done yet. Right before it's done, it will bubble up and get puffy like the picture above. Once that happens, stir for another minute or so and then take your cider reduction off the heat.
5. Roast your brussels sprouts for 15 minutes at 375F and then give them a stir reduce the temperature to 350 for another 10ish (depending on how big they are) until they are nice and soft and brown/crisped on the edges and bottoms. You want them to be well-cooked for this dish, because undercooked brussels sprouts can have sort of a horseradish taste, and you don't want that. You want nice, crispy on the outside soft on the inside brussels sprouts.
Dump your brussels sprouts into a serving bowl, and use your spatula to drizzle the apple cider reduction over the top (scraping down the sides and bottom of your saucepan so you don't miss any of that cider goodness). If your reduction has been sitting for a while it's going to be really thick and gooey--if it's too hard to get it all out of your saucepan, put a cup or two of brussels sprouts into the saucepan and toss them around to deglaze the pot. The reduction will liquefy again when it's combined with the sprouts. Mix everything up until the sprouts are all well-coated, and serve warm.
The tart-sweet flavor of the apple cider, with the spices, and the salt, and the warmth of the brussels sprouts...it's really just the perfect combination. I'm going to use this recipe to bring brussels sprouts to the masses. They'll call me the patron saint of the sprouts. These are great as a side dish (ooooor as a meal. Shhhhh.) But they're also great added to a salad the next day, with some pieces of torn up prosciutto and arugula and pistachios...my mouth is watering. Enjoy!
P.S. Tomorrow is finally the day when I'm sharing some house pictures! Don't believe me?? That's fair, I've faked you out about house pictures many a time. This is the end of that deception. You have my word. House photos will be distributed TOMORROW. Be there, or be square.