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November 18, 2011 6:00 AM

It's "All About Roasting" these amazing Brussels sprouts

Posted by Nancy Leson

This week in the Seattle Times, gardener Ciscoe Morris shared a recipe for Brussels sprouts, a popular Thanksgiving table staple that, as Ciscoe says, is worth planting in late spring so you might reap the rewards come late fall. Like Ciscoe, I, too, had a Brussels sprouts moment this week.

Perhaps you heard me yakking it up with my pal Dick Stein on our KPLU show "Food for Thought" Wednesday. Stein and I were rhapsodizing (again!) about our gal Molly Stevens, whose "All About Braising" is our hands-down-favorite cookbook. Or at least it was until we each got our hands on a copy of Molly's latest, "All About Roasting," recently published after five years in the making. Stein told me he was too busy reading Molly's introductory chapter on the principles of roasting to cook from it right off the bat, but Monday night, I hit my local PCC, returned with a pound of organic booty and got cooking.



Molly Stevens' quick and easy recipe for "Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Capers and Lemony Browned Butter." [photo: Nancy Leson]

I'm not exaggerating when I tell you these were the best Brussels sprouts I've ever eaten, and in fact were every bit as good (if not better) than the ones I've been oohing and aahing over at fancy-little-bistros all over town. What? You haven't noticed that those "bitter little pills" -- as my husband calls them -- are the darling of chefs everywhere? Mr. Bitter Little Pill was out of town, so I cooked these for our son, who liked them so much at dinner he ate them cold the next day as an after-school snack. (Hey, hon, as you always say, "MFU!" -- more for us!)

Here's Molly's recipe, perfect doubled for Thanksgiving:

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Capers and Lemony Browned Butter (serves four)

1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon mustard seeds, yellow or brown
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, plus more if needed

HEAT THE OVEN. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 425 degrees (400 degrees convection). If desired, line a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

CUT AND SEASON THE BRUSSELS SPROUTS. Depending on their size, cut the Brussels sprouts in halves or quarters; you want them to be small enough to be bite-sized. Place in a large bowl and toss with the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the sprouts in a single layer on the baking sheet. Don't worry if some of the leaves fall off. Include these when roasting; they will crisp up, adding a nice crunch to the dish.

ROAST. Slide the Brussels sprouts into the oven and roast, turning once or twice with a metal spatula to promote even cooking, until the sprouts are tender throughout and smaller bits or leaves that have fallen off are browned and crunchy, 20 to 25 minutes. Test for doneness by piercing a sprout with the tip of a paring knife, but to be sure, nab one off the baking sheet, let it cool slightly, and taste; it should be tender and sweet.

MEANWHILE, MAKE THE BROWNED BUTTER. As the sprouts roast, melt the butter in a small skillet or heavy saucepan (it should be no more than 6 inches across or the butter will burn). Cook over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add the mustard seeds, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, watching the pan carefully and swirling frequently, until the butter begins to foam and turns golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add the capers and lemon juice -- the butter will sizzle -- and immediately remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste and keep warm until the Brussels sprouts are ready.

SERVE. Transfer the Brussels sprouts to a serving dish and add the browned butter. Toss to coat. Taste for salt, pepper, and lemon and serve immediately.

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Food for Thought | Nancy Leson on KPLU

Listen to Nancy at 5:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. during Morning Edition, at 4:40 p.m. during All Things Considered and again the following Saturday at 8:30 a.m. during Weekend Edition on KPLU 88.5.

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