I made an unlikely new friend recently.
The kids in picture books always seemed to cringe at the mention of brussels sprouts for some reason. They fervently condemn them as smelly, bitter, and disgusting. Their faces turn green, their cheeks puff with barf, and they scowl as their cruel parents force them to swallow. The message is clear: stay away by all means. So in my ignorance I turned my back on them for eighteen years. As well as I could anyway, but recently they’ve begun to haunt me at the farmer’s market. I just couldn’t wrap my head around why something so hated could be three times the price of beloved broccoli. Was I missing out on something? Anyway, how bad could darling baby cabbages could really be? I brought them home, cut their chubby little bodies in half, threw them into a a skillet with a pat of butter and…meh. They were half-cooked and there was the unmistakable taste of half-assery. At least my face didn’t turn green when I ate them.
Leave it good ol’ Ina to make me try again. No, no, silly girl, she said to me with a patient smile, you have to roast them. Cut them in half, coat them with olive oil–good olive oil, mind you–and a healthy showering of salt and pepper, then throw them in a 400 degree oven for forty minutes. Those are brussels sprouts.
Sure enough, she was right. Brussels sprouts were made to be roasted. Unlike other vegetables that are sometimes robbed of that sparky freshness in a long roasting, brussels sprouts are pungent and unpleasant when raw. The oven mellows the pungency that is so hated by picture book children (and perhaps real children too! I don’t actually know anyone personally besides me that eats them…) and produces crispy, creamy, caramelized morsels I’d bet are irresistible even to people who claim to be brussels sprouts haters.
A few days after I first made Ina’s brussels sprouts, I roasted them alongside a butterflied chicken (new favorite way of roasting chicken by the way), a lemon, and a few garlic cloves. They were, if possible, even better than the ones roasted in good olive oil. The leaking lemon juices brought some brightness to the richness–yes, it’s a rich vegetable if I ever tasted one–of the brussels sprouts, the garlic rounded it out, and the chicken drippings…well, nothing bad has ever come of roasting things in chicken drippings.
And now, I suppose you expect a recipe, but it really doesn’t require one. What can I say, I’m a people pleaser though, so here you go.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts, washed, ends trimmed, and each one sliced in half
1 lemon, cut in half
half a head of garlic, broken into cloves but unpeeled
3 tablespoons of relatively high-smoke point oil, such as light olive oil, peanut oil, schmaltz, or duck fat
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Combine the brussels sprouts, lemon, and garlic in a large sheet pan. Drizzle in the oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
- Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, shaking every so often so they brown on all sides.
- When the brussels sprouts are golden and crispy on the outside, squeeze the lemon over everything and serve.