Wednesday, February 5, 2014

52WoC Week 4: Ingredient You Hated as a Kid - Roasted Brussels Sprout Salad

Trying to go back to think about the food I hated as a kid was incredibly difficult. Growing up there was very little food that I didn't enjoy and most of the food I didn't like, I only disliked because I had it too often. I disliked the pasta dinner I was given every Monday. After two weeks of cold cut sandwiches I would gag at the sight of them. But there was only one ingredient I can remember disliking or at least I think I disliked. To be honest, I'm not even sure if I actually disliked them or TV told me I disliked them. That ingredient was obviously Brussels sprouts. They were like little balls of farts. Nothing about them was appealing. They are green. They are leafy. They smell and taste like flatulence. It's every kid's nightmare. Worse than NPR, worse than a documentary, and even worse than an opera. Granted if my parents showed me R. Kelly's glorious Hip-Hopera, Trapped in the Closet, I may have enjoyed opera1. I learned later in life that I had just eaten shitty sprouts. They can be tasty, they just need the right preparation.

So what is the secret to making Brussels sprouts tasty? Well there are a few tricks in this recipe. Roasting them prevents them from smelling like a sewage plant and adds nice color and texture. If you're curious about why this works, check out Nate's amazing gratin recipe. What else can you do to make these little poop nuggets tasty? Cover them in bacon fat and goat cheese. Everything is better with bacon fat and goat cheese. I know bacon is played the fuck out in the food world but in some cases it's needed to bring a richness that you can't get from just butter or oil2. Goat cheese brings the perfect acidity to balance out this salad perfectly. Roasted Brussels sprouts was the first way I enjoyed them and I hope it can change your mind as well.

Roasted Brussels Sprout Salad

Qty Ingredient Procedure
1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts
  1. Cut the ends off the sprouts and then cut in half removing the outer leaves.
5 strips bacon
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F
  2. Render the fat off the bacon. Cook bacon until crispy.
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  1. Toss sprouts with bacon fat and vinegar. If not completely coated in bacon fat use additional olive oil.
  2. Put them on an oiled backing sheet baking for 10 minutes. Flip and back for an additional 10 minutes or until browning nicely.
1-2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  1. Toss sprouts with the vinegar, oil, crumbled up bacon, and goat cheese. Season to taste.
4 oz goat cheese

Prepping a pound and a half of Brussels sprouts can be quite the time consuming task. You want to start by cutting off the end of the sprout then cut it in half lengthwise. The outer leaves will likely fall off, if not, I like to peel them off manually. Loose leaves like these will burn up pretty nice when roasting.

Once the sprouts are prepped, place in a large bowl that will be easy to toss in. Preheat your oven to 425°F. Render the fat off the 5 pieces of bacon. I go with the slow and low method to try to get as much fat off and make the bacon as crispy as possible. You will want the bacon to be concrete crunchy to top the salad later. Toss the sprouts in the bacon fat and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. The vinegar will add nice a sweetness and promote browning. If the bacon fat doesn't completely coat the sprouts toss with additional olive oil. Place on a backing sheet in a single layer. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes then flip. Bake for another 10-15 minutes until desired doneness.

Above is a picture of the roasted sprouts. You can leave them in longer if you like and they will get a beautiful mahogany brown but I personally like them a little less roasted. Top with a couple more tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and toss. Top with goat cheese and crushed up bacon. If you top the sprouts with the cheese while the sprouts are still hot, the cheese will melt making this very creamy sauce to coat the sprouts. If you're not into that, simply wait until the sprouts are cooled. Either way, toss and season to taste before serving.

  1. I had written a full two paragraphs explaining my love for R. Kelly but it seemed unnecessary, who doesn't love R Kelly?  
  2. Bacon fat can be subbed out with olive oil if you want to make this vegetarian or just dislike bacon. 


  1. Honestly this looks way better than my 'sprouts recipe. Only possible improvement would be to deep fry them.

    1. I still need to try that, shit sounds like it would be on point.