It’s all about the sides

It’s all about the sides

We all have our favorite side dishes that  absolutely must accompany roasted turkey on our Thanksgiving tables. For many of us, those familiar flavors are steeped in deep-rooted family traditions.

By Tom Yates

Last year, my sister-in-law invited us over for a family Thanksgiving meal. As any dutiful invited guest should do, I asked what we could bring to the feast. She requested brussels sprouts.

Specifically, creamy blue cheese brussels sprouts with bacon, a dish she’d fallen head over heels for at an area restaurant. Interesting prospect. While we love brussels sprouts, I’d never thought about serving them at Thanksgiving. That changed when we took our little show on the road over the hills and through the woods toting a restaurant riff on those beloved brussels sprouts.

Everyone loved them, even the skeptical self-proclaimed brussels sprouts haters. With sweet sherry undertones tempering the soft pungency of the melted blue cheese, the earthy sprouts didn’t compete or overpower the traditional food on the table. Their eccentric oddity actually complimented the familiar tastes of Thanksgiving.

An accidental win.

It’s funny, while I love brussels sprouts prepared just about any way possible, that particular method (with some tweaks and variations) has been my go-to preparation for them since that Thanksgiving day.

Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Gorgonzola Cream and Prosciutto

Seriously, they were so simple and quick to throw together. Perfect for a busy food day. Or even a lazy late night snack.

I clipped the root ends off of a pound of fresh brussels sprouts and sliced them in half. After heating vegetable oil in a large skillet over a medium-high flame until it started to smoke, I carefully placed the brussels sprouts, cut sides down, into the sizzling oil. When they started to caramelize, I showered them with salt and cracked black pepper before flipping them over in the skillet to sear on the other side. After adding a scant tablespoon of minced shallots, I deglazed the pan with 1/4 cup sherry combined with 1/4 cup chicken stock, covered the skillet, and let the sprouts steam for 3 minutes before removing the lid to reduce the stock. When the last drop of sherry-infused stock evaporated into an airy wisp, I added 1 cup heavy cream and 4 ounces of sliced gorgonzola cheese.  Within minutes, the pungent thickened cream enveloped the pan-roasted sprouts. Although that could have been enough, I took it one step further. I spooned the creamy sprouts into buttered gratin dishes, crumbled additional gorgonzola cheese over the sprouts, and slid them under a flaming broiler.

I pulled the gratins from the oven to calm the bubbling charred cheese before finishing with snipped chives and oven-crisped prosciutto crumbles.

Unconventional. Unexpected.

A perfect Thanksgiving party crasher.

This article also appears on page 11 of the November 2016 printed issue of Ace.

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