Brussels sprouts courtesy of farmer Thane Palmberg are a current staple of the Novel menu, even though the preparation varies from week to week depending on other ingredients’ arrival. For The Star’s Thanksgiving menu, chef Ryan Brazeal layered several easy techniques to create layers of complex flavor.
He started by mixing up a pickling vinegar for the dried cranberry garnish. Next, he charred the sprouts. “I like to burn things,” Brazeal says. “It adds a bitterness, a carbon flavor and a smokiness.” Finally, he added a soy and plum sauce vinaigrette.
The result: an almost indescribable melding of flavors that chefs refer to as “umami.”
“It sounds pretentious, but having sweet, sour, salty, bitter and some fat creates something. There’s not a receptor on your tongue, but it is something the body recognizes,” he says.Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Pickled Cranberries and Plum Vinaigrette Makes 16 servings
Pickled cranberries:2 cups sweetened dried cranberries 2 tablespoons sugar 1/2 cup hot water 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
Vinaigrette:1/4 cup plum sauce 1/4 cup soy sauce 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar 1/4 cup canola oil 1/4 cup water
Brussels sprouts:2 pounds fresh Brussels sprouts Canola oil, as needed Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1/4 cup torn fresh mint, for garnish 1/4 cup torn fresh basil, for garnish
At least the day before Thanksgiving:
Soak cranberries in hot water for about 30 minutes to soften, then drain. In a nonreactive container, dissolve sugar in 1/2 cup hot water and add rice wine vinegar to create a pickling liquid. Add cranberries to pickling liquid and refrigerate. (The cranberries can keep for up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.)
In a bowl, whisk together all the vinaigrette ingredients and refrigerate.
Remove vinaigrette from refrigerator. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Trim the Brussels sprouts and cut them from top to bottom into halves (medium-size) or fourths (large-size), so pieces are a uniform size for even roasting. Toss sprouts in just enough canola oil to coat them and liberally season with salt and pepper. Spread the Brussels sprouts in a roasting pan large enough to hold them in a single layer with breathing room in between or on 2 baking sheets. Roast Brussels sprouts for 20 to 30 minutes, until they are lightly charred and easily pierced with a paring knife.
Remove the cranberries from the pickling liquid. In a bowl, toss cranberries and Brussels sprouts with vinaigrette. Garnish with basil and mint.Per serving: 84 calories (52 percent from fat), 5 grams total fat (trace saturated fat), no cholesterol, 9 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, 287 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.