Jackson Pollock and Brussel Sprouts

Lovely Readers,

I haven’t shared any recipes of late, have I? My primary intention here was to post a recipe a day.  The purpose, ideally, was to create a repository of recipes into which I could delve and repeat preparing meals we have eaten. The reason for this is that  my memory is that of a May fly: once a dish is cooked and consumed, it is forgotten (by me).

I like to call it spontaneous cooking. I open the fridge, find a couple of pounds of chicken thighs bought on sale, spy an open bottle of a Spanish Rioja sitting on the kitchen counter, next to a basket containing two Fuji apples. I’d stand back, and utter my favorite mantric query: “What if…,?” (I find this mantra to be applicable in a surfeit of situations).

I fancy that my approach to ingredients is similar to a jazz riff or of how an abstract painter approaches tubes of acrylic paints. This is a super fun way to cook, unfortunately, without a record of the schematics, the recipe for what I made often fades into totally obscurity.   DH would look off into the distance and sigh, as if he were remembering a best friend from junior high, “That lamb tajine, it made the whole floor of are apartment building smell like cumin…Make that again…”  This request to me, was as if  upon viewing Pollock’s Number 8, you gushed, “oooh do that again!” Not that my cooking even remotely approaches Pollock’s utter genius… but I’d sit there in an invisible (to DH) panic.

I made that? It smelled like what? The whole floor? (One of the best things, I think, about our apartment building is the food smells: we have neighbors from Thailand, New Dehli and Mississipi…when these people cook, it is an amazing topology of scents: curry, jasmine rice, fried chicken…if I weren’t concerned about being perceived as more than slightly odd, I would go from floor to floor, inhaling deeply as I stood on the transom to the elevator). I would respond to DH’s request with a sigh, totally at a loss as to how I had prepared that dish. Recipe cards? Too domestic.

So, the blog seemed like a good way to record these epicurean experiments…not only that, knowing I had to write the recipe down, compelled me to pay attention to measuring. I actually went out and bought a Pyrex measuring cup…I figured a cup of stock lends a little more credence to a recipe than “one Bordeaux glass full of stock.”

But good intentions…sigh.

In reality, my indolent self overtook the compulsion to adhere to my goal of recording what I cooked coupled with a sort of humility…a platter of Brussels sprouts braised with bacon and balsamic vinegar suddenly seemed like an amazing example of something so prosaic, I couldn’t even bring myself to describe it. Besides, it is so much more fun to talk about other stuff like left wing politics and Armani.

Today, though, as I tippy-tap on the keyboard, I am eating leftovers from last night.  And, dang, these Brussels sprouts rock. This weekend, at Berkeley Bowl we bought a two and a half foot tall stalk of Brussels sprouts—if you have never seen how these little guys grow, check this out:  Brussels sprouts If we ever buy a house with a yard, I am so growing these. (another reason why BB rocks).

Here’s what I did: Brussels sprouts are a lot of work…after I cut them from their stalk, I had roughly 2 pounds of these little guys which translates into about 4 billion little green heads—not really, but it felt that way when I trimmed the final little globe of leaves. So, with a sharp paring knife, cut off the woody bottom of each sprout. Strip off any dried or dark leaves. I then cut each sprout in half (length wise). Fill your sink or a large bowl (for those of us with teeny apartment kitchen sinks) with cold water. Swish the sprouts to allow for any sand to fall to the bottom of the bowl. Drain and pat dry with paper towel. Transfer the sprouts to a rimmed broiling pan—you want it large enough to accommodate the sprouts in one layer. Drizzle the sprouts lightly with olive oil.

HERE’S THE SECRET –>bacon! Cut roughly 4 thick cut slices of bacon into 1 inch pieces, sprinkle the raw, yes, raw pieces over the sprouts. Slip this into a preheated oven 450 for about 15 minutes, or until the sprouts and bacon are commencing to brown.

HERE’S ANOTHER SECRET–>Give the sprouts and bacon a good slosh (about a cup of good chicken stock) return to the oven and cook until the stock is absorbed.

And the FINAL SECRET –>Right before you serve these, toss with Balsamic vinegar.

This, I promise, is the most amazing dish–and NO greasy frying pan to wash(!!)…it almost makes cutting the ends off of 4 billion sprouts worth the time.

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Published in: on December 16, 2009 at 1:12 AM  Comments (2)  
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