Brussels sprouts have been a much maligned vegetable over the years. Why is this? Mostly because the flavor is strong, and kids have much more sensitive taste buds than do adults, so a child tasting strong flavors gets overwhelmed very easily. Just think of the things that kids notoriously don't like:
- Coffee (not a bad thing... can you imagine a 4 year old hyped up on even more caffeine?)
- Dark chocolate
- Spicy foods
Basically, strong tastes are too much for kids. I remember hearing that a child's taste buds are 300 times more sensitive than an adults. I also think that's why most people say whiskey is an acquired taste. It's not really acquired; you just kill off enough tastebuds over time that stronger flavors aren't so overwhelming, and you can enjoy what you can still taste.
Because of the number of years that some people have said they don't like Brussels sprouts, it can be hard to get them to even try them. A couple things that may make it more appealing to give them a shot are to get really fresh sprouts, use a good amount of butter to cook them, and add a hefty drop of more of bourbon the mis. The bourbon actually sweetens the sprouts a bit and adds some really nice layers of flavor.
- 1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts
- 4 ounces unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup bourbon (your choice)
- Salt & pepper
Cooking Brussels sprouts is an easy task. After getting fresh sprouts (either on the stalk or cut but with ends that aren't dark brown), rinse them and cut them in half from the top through the cut end. This allows the leaves to stay as intact as possible. If the sprouts are loose (not on a stalk), cut the very ends off, but leave as much as you can to hold the leaves together.
The very next thing I do is to put them in the microwave on high for 2 1/2 minutes. this softens them a bit so you don't have to worry about them being too crunchy after cooking them, and it lessens the cooking time on the grill.
On the grill, these work best in a cast iron/carbon steel pan or on a griddle top. Melt the butter in the pan or griddle over a medium fire, and put the sprouts in the butter, cut side down. I start with half a stick of butter, but more can be used if desired.
The sprouts should be left cooking until the sprouts have browned nicely; I start checking after about 3 minutes. It's better to check early than late, as the fire may be hotter than you thought! Once the sprouts are browned well on the cut side, turn them over and cook them for 2-3 minutes to brown the outside of the sprouts, if desired. Sometimes I just leave them with the cut side browned. Regardless, turn the sprouts so they're cut side up for the next step.
Now for the fun part... the bourbon! Move the pan away from the fire, if using a pan over open flame. On a flat top, have a lighter handy, but be careful that you don't pour the bourbon over live flame and burn yourself! Drizzle the bourbon on the sprouts, getting the whiskey on all the sprouts. I like a good dousing, as that leaves a bit more bourbon flavor. Put the skillet back on the grill. If the bourbon doesn't catch fire from the grill, use a lighter to light the bourbon to flambé (and use the lighter on a flat top griddle).
I cook on an Arterflame grill, which has a plancha around the outside of the fire and burns charcoal and/or wood. The plancha is sloped just a bit toward the fire, so I just drizzle the last bit of bourbon toward the fire, and it catches beautifully! Whichever method you use, though, be safe first, but make sure your family or friends see it... they'll be impressed!
After the fire dies down, the Brussels sprouts are ready. Take them off the grill and add some salt and pepper. This is the perfect time to use that fancy French salt you've wanted to try, but any large flake salt would be great.
These bourbon Brussels sprouts are great as is, or you can even add a sriracha aoli to the mix. If you'd like a recipe for that, just let me know!
This is a great way to do Brussels sprouts and may become a favorite way of having them. That dark, crunchy part is just hard to beat, and the butter and bourbon combo makes just about anything better... but remember first to be safe. Don't get burned when you do the alcohol drizzle; it's better to take the food off the flame and light it with a match than to take a trip to the ER. Also, watch out if you have anything above your grill, as the flames can go pretty high, and you don't need a burned deck that travels to the house, then the garage, then the neighbors' houses just to show off a bit. Play it safe first, but enjoy!