Wednesday, November 14, 2007

brussels sprouts and chestnuts in brown butter

brussels sprouts and chestnuts in brown butter

Every so often, a recipe crosses my browser’s threshold and I know immediately that it Must Be Made. Surely, you know the feeling. This happens a lot more in the fall, because I simply love the cooking this time of year–warm, soupy, stewy and rich. We haven’t yet succumbed to hibernation and meals scraped from whatever was in the pantry because the famers’ markets looked so paltry, and you seriously cannot deal with another butternut squash.


Today’s New York Times dining section’s Thanksgiving feature had exactly that effect on me, times 16. Seriously, look at this slideshow! The photography is stunning, and the recipes… I want to try them all.*


But I started with the Brussels Sprouts and Chestnuts in Brown Butter Sauce, touted elsewhere in the section by Flo-Fab for it’s ability to pair seamlessly with wine. (She didn’t mention the rose we were drinking, but I had no complaints.) And seriously, what are the odds that I would have just happened to have picked up some chestnuts in Chinatown this weekend on the street, waiting to be roasted at home? Exactly nonexistent, I’ll tell you, and yet still it happened.

shallots in butterbrussels and chestnuts

It’s hard for me to say anything bad about this recipe because our apartment currently smells like browned butter and shallots which, trust me, is a very good thing. We loved the Brussels as well as the chestnuts but something went wrong with the (delicious) veloute. The recipe wasn’t clear on this whole “thickened” thing and when it hadn’t happened after five minutes, and the recipe said nothing about cooking it for 20 or something, I considered it done. It wasn’t. The final dish was tasty, but swimming in this sauce. We threw it over some egg noodles (in possibly the best sauce for egg noodles, ever) but I still suspect that this is not the way the dish was supposed to go.

So, to summarize: flavors = amazing, ingredients = delicious, preparation = a little fussy but manageable, sauce = decadent, but the wrong consistency. Thus, the recipe needs some work before it’s ready for your Thanksgiving table, but I do think it’s worth salvaging. Just perhaps not tonight. The rose is making me sleepy.

brussel sprouts and chestnuts in brown butter

* Actually, one of them I already have. Highly recommended.

Q&A? Seeing as I’ve made to the halfway point of NaBloPoMo (woo!) I was thinking about throwing a Q&A post in there to give our kitchen (and the handsome dishwasher) a one-day rest. Of course then I realized that it is entirely possible that nobody actually has a question they want me to answer, and I obviously have an inflated sense of self-importance to presume that people would. And then I thought of the dishes, all the time with the dishes that never stop, and have decided I’m not too proud to beg. But I hope it doesn’t come to that.

One year ago: Tomato and Sausage Risotto

Brussels Sprouts and Chestnuts in Brown Butter Sauce
New York Times 11/14/07

Serves 8

2 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup very thinly sliced shallots
3 tablespoons flour
2 1/2 cups hot chicken stock
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup roasted, peeled chestnuts, halved if large.

1. Bring 4 cups salted water to a boil, add brussels sprouts and cook 10 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold water. Drain again.

2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a 3-quart saucepan. Add shallots and cook over medium heat, stirring, until light brown. Pour contents of pan through a fine strainer into a dish, pressing to remove as much butter as possible from shallots. Place shallots on paper towel to drain. Return butter to saucepan.

3. If serving immediately, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place saucepan over medium heat and cook until butter has a nutty aroma and is turning brown. Whisk in flour and cook until mixture is light brown. Whisk in stock and cook until sauce has thickened. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste, and nutmeg. Add chestnuts and brussels sprouts, folding ingredients together.

4. Transfer to an 8-cup baking dish. Scatter shallots on top. Bake about 15 minutes. Serve.


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