In Praise of the Brussels Sprout
by Loree Dowse | February 2016
Oh Brussels Sprouts, we are so proud of you.
The once-maligned, Christmas-only, malodorous-when-overcooked sprout is having its day in the sun. Now a fixture on menus nationwide, Brussels are finally getting the treatment they deserve – whether it’s whole or shaved, roasted or sautéed. A delicious foil to smoky bacon or pancetta, they are holding their own on the breakfast plate. And lunch plate. And dinner plate.
We especially loved chef Brian Sullivan’s recent article in Huffpost Taste, Are Brussels Sprouts the New Mac N’ Cheese? Who would have ever thought the little ol’ Brussels sprout would be elevated to comfort food status – a place reserved for moms and apple pie?
First cultivated in 16th-century Belgium, Brussels sprouts took their name from its capital city. Not really a sprout, Brussels are more like a miniature cabbage, and grow tightly packed on a tall thick stalk. A member of the Brassica family of veggies, Brussels sprouts keep good company alongside kale, collard greens, kohlrabi, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and bok choy. Most of which are, ahem, Mann’s products.
Brussels sprouts top the list of cruciferous vegetables containing glucosinolates, the chemical starting point for a variety of cancer-fighting substances in the body. They provide cholesterol-lowering benefits when steamed, improved stability of DNA inside white blood cells when consumed regularly, and are currently being researched to determine their positive impact on thyroid function. Whew, we feel healthier already!
Super food. Comfort food. Labels aside, we like them just the way they are.
Pulled Pork and Brussels Sprout Grits
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 ½ cups stone-ground yellow grits
- Sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste
- 1 cup sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 tablespoon butter to finish
Bring stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Gently add the grits to the simmering stock. Stir in salt and pepper.
Frequently stir the grits, making sure to scrape the bottom. After about 10 minutes of cooking, add the cream. Depending on the brand, stone-ground grits are ready after 20 minutes. Add a little more warm stock and/or milk if grits become too dry. When the grits are tender to bite, stir in the cheese (reserving a little for garnish) and butter.
- 1 (6-7-lb) pork shoulder
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, fine minced
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup bourbon
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 2 cups of BBQ sauce
Preheat oven to 300°F. Pat the pork shoulder completely dry with paper towels. In a bowl, combine the brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, salt, pepper, chili and onion powder. Mix well and rub it on the pork.
Heat a large Dutch oven or oven-safe pot over medium-high heat and add the canola oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add the pork shoulder and sear until golden brown on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Carefully remove the pork shoulder from the pot and set aside.
Turn off the heat and add in the sliced onions, garlic cloves, bourbon, soy sauce, chicken stock and maple syrup. Scrape the bottom of the pot to get all the browned bits. Add the pork back to the pot, cover tightly, and then place in the preheated oven.
Roast for 6-8 hours or until the pork is falling apart and shreds easily with a fork. Shred the pork in the pot and strain the liquid and toss the pork with the Maple-BBQ pan sauce and then place it back in the oven for 15 minutes. Add a little more BBQ sauce if drying.
Seared Brussels Sprout Grits
- Canola oil as needed
- Sea salt and fresh black pepper; as needed
- 1 bag 10oz. caramelized brussel sprouts; shaved
- 1 recipe for heirloom grits
- 2 cups of Maple-Bourbon pulled pork
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
Lightly toss canola oil and sear shaved Brussels sprouts until they are soft and slightly brown, about 12 minutes. Stir ¾ of them into the cooked grits then spoon the mixture into four individual bowls. Top with the remaining caramelized Brussels sprouts and heap a few ounces of the maple-bourbon pulled pork next to that. Sprinkle with the remaining sharp white cheddar.