Caramelized Brussels Sprouts – Joy of Cooking
My relationship with Joy of Cooking got off to a rocky start, but things are definitely looking up. I don’t think I ever got around to telling my Joy of Cooking story, so now’s as good a time as any. And then I’ll get around to the Brussels Sprouts.
Remember a while back when I made apple butter? And how things got a little… interesting? Well, apparently the new generation of Joy cookbookers is paying very close attention to their press, because very shortly after I posted that saga, John Becker from Joy of Cooking commented with his apologies about the difficulties I’d had with the recipe, suggestions for how to improve it, and an offer to send me my very own copy of the updated 75th Anniversary Joy of Cooking cookbook.
This was a pretty exciting thing for an amateur blogger. I really felt like I’d made it! And then the cookbook came and I spent a good long while digging through it and caressing it and finding a good place for it on my cookbook shelf, and it was a little slice of heaven. It really does look like an amazing cookbook. I haven’t spent a ton of time with my antique copy, but the new one certainly has an immense reference section for basic cooking concepts and methods, and I’ve been using it as my go-to book for random pointers for a while now.
But as you may have noticed from my Broccoli Cheese Casserole experiment (using the new book), even the updates didn’t change some of the things that bugged me the most about my older version. The recipe style takes some real getting used to, with the ingredients mixed in with the instructions rather than all together up top. I’m getting used to that, but it does make it harder for me to get everything I need ready before I start cooking, and I do frequently find myself missing things completely, or discovering them halfway through and being unprepared. But the thing that bugs me the most is the way the recipes jump back and forth referencing each other, so that to make one dish, you may have to use two, three, four, possibly even five different recipes within the book. I won’t go into that here – I talked about it in the Casserole post – but it is my biggest complaint.
However, the offshoot of the whole cookbook extravaganza was that I discovered the new Joy of Cooking website, which has its own awesome advice and totally new recipes that aren’t even in the cookbook. They also have a facebook page now, where they post some of these new recipes, which is how I found this one.
Calin doesn’t like brussels sprouts. He’s actually quite picky about vegetables in general. But I love them (brussels and most vegetables in general), so I’m always trying to find ways to cook them so he’ll eat them too. When I saw the word “caramelized”, I knew I’d struck gold. Who can resist vegetables with sugar?
But they’re good for you, too! The sugar is such a small part of this recipe – the brussels are so much of it, and the onions…oh the onions – that I feel entirely justified in the the bribe attempt. (I can already tell where my line will be once I have kids: there’s a strong distinction between “too much” and “acceptable amounts” of sugar.)
The recipe calls for two pounds of brussels and one large onion. I think you could safely add more of either one, depending on your taste, but the balance is excellent as written. The onion caramelizes brilliantly, helping the sweet flavor of the final dish, and the brussels stay strong and green, but not at all bitter. Calin normally says they taste like dirt (so do beets, apparently), but he actually enjoyed these.
I’ve made these five times now, for various occasions. It’s actually gotten to the point where I don’t bother with the bowl – I just throw them straight into the pan on the tin foil and toss them there. That way you only ever messy a cutting board, a knife, a measuring cup, and maybe (but not always) the one pan.
I neglected to document the cooking part, but I use my large lasagna pan lined with extra-strength tin foil and sprayed down with olive oil. Then I dump the tossed brussels in on top of the foil and spread them out as evenly as I can. The large pan is just about perfect for one batch of brussels. I made these again recently and tripled the recipe, and I couldn’t spread them out quite enough in the pan – they cooked well enough but they stayed a bit soggier.
Another change I made is the cranberries. The recipe says they’re optional, and just to sprinkle some on top after the brussels are cooked. I’m slightly addicted to dried cranberries, so I used at least a whole cup of them, probably closer to two cups (I’ve never actually measured – I just throw them in), and I mix them into the pan after the second stirring, around 20-25 minutes. Then I let them cook with the brussels for the last 10 minutes or so. I think it adds to the sweetness of the dish, but I’m sure it would work either way. I would argue that they are anything but optional.
The first time we made these, we served them with lemon fettuccine with grilled chicken (and fake chicken) and they were a huge hit. The most recent time, they were part of a sort of pot luck birthday dinner with about 10 people, and everyone loved them – enough to eat almost six pounds of brussels. This is turning into my go-to vegetable dish, and I couldn’t be happier. Brussels are easy, they keep, and they’re available year round without a huge drop in quality in the off-season. I highly, highly recommend this recipe.
Caramelized Brussels Sprouts
Joy of Cooking
Serves 8 to 10 as a side dish
Directions and Ingredients:
- Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Line a baking dish or roasting pan with foil.
- Trim, wash, and halve:
- 2 pounds Brussels sprouts
- Cut into thin wedges:
- 1 large onion
- Toss the onion and Brussels sprouts in the prepared dish with:
- 1/4 cup olive or canola oil
- 2 tablespoons sugar or brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Roast, stirring every 10 minutes, until the Brussels sprouts begin to caramelize and turn golden brown, about 30 to 40 minutes.
- Sprinkle on top, if desired:
- (Dried cranberries)