As mentioned previously here on this blog, I have come to love Brussels sprouts relatively late in life, but now that we’ve found each other, I think it will be a life-long love affair. This will especially be true as long as I keep finding new and exciting ways to enjoy them– yep, it’s a one-sided relationship so it’s up to me to keep things lively.
It’s a little difficult to keep things interesting considering I hauled out the big guns at the start of our relationship– trying Brussels with bacon (and hazelnuts), but I’ve also really enjoyed them roasted in a cast iron skillet in my oven with a squeeze of lemon juice, plenty of salt and pepper, and a liberal shaving of Parmesan. There’s also a new favorite– cream braised, which I’ll eventually get around to documenting (months from now when you’ll long have forgotten that I mentioned it.) But in this post, I’ll be talking about how we ate them frizzled.
I watched a cooking show that suggesting pulling apart the leaves of each individual Brussels sprout then sautéing them in hot olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes until the leaves are browned and crispy. I rather liked the sound of that– light, fluttery leaves rendered all nutty and crispy with no trace of the cabbage sulphur taste. If that wasn’t enough motivation to try cooking brussels that way, then there was also the arrival of this:
My awesome father-in-law drew John and me in the Christmas gift lottery last year and requested a wish list. I expected only one wish to be granted off the list, but Jim came through spectacularly with gifts of both the pasta maker and the ice cream maker attachments for our Kitchen Aid Standing Mixer! That’s right– months after receiving I still talk/write about these gifts with exclamation points! With half of a leftover roasted chicken left in the fridge, a pound of Brussels, and the mixer attachment screaming to be tried, this pasta dish was our initiation into the world of making fresh pasta.
Now if you try this at home, I’m not going to insist that you make your own pasta, (but do try to use fresh pasta instead of dried if you can) but I have to say that with the first bite, John and I decided that we could never go back to dried pasta again. In fact now, the only dried pasta I use are funny shaped ones and orzo– things I can’t make at home. Plus, the ice cream maker made us quickly think that perhaps we could live processed food free. (Time constraints and my need to delude myself as to exactly how many eggs we consume each week has changed that.) My point is, there’s just something perfect about the slightly chewy texture of fresh pasta and how it meshes with the frizzled leaves and juicy chicken meat that should not be missed and which cannot be replicated with dried pasta. The chicken makes this pasta hearty, but there’s a lightness from the Brussels leaves and the light citrus and woodsy flavors from some lemon zest and fresh thyme, making this a perfect early spring meal.
Note: If you have a pasta maker and want to take the extra step of making your own, my go-to pasta dough consists of 8 oz flour (about 1.25 to 1.5 cups if you don’t have a scale) and 3 eggs, mixed together in the bowl of your mixer using the paddle attachment or by pulsing in a food processor until just combined and crumbly. Pour the dough out on a lightly floured surface and hand knead sprinkling with flour until you have a smooth dough, about 5-10 minutes. Flatten into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Let rest for at least 20 minutes (or refrigerate and keep it for up to 3 days) before cutting into 4 equal portions. Roll out according to your machine’s manufacturer directions and then cut using the wide fettucine setting.
- 1/2 roasted chicken (either leftovers from one you made according to your favorite recipe or you can use a store-bought rotisserie if you want), skin removed and meat torn into bite sized pieces
- 3/4 lb fresh fettucine
- 1 lb Brussels sprouts
- olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Using a paring knife, cut the tips off the Brussels sprouts and carefully peel off the layers of each brussel, discarding any wilted outer leaves and putting the rest into a bowl or colander. When you get to the very center of the sprout where the leaves are too tightly packed to break down any further, cut it in half and add it to your bowl of leaves.
Add water to your pasta pot to start heating up while you cook the contents of your sauce. Heat about 1 tbsp olive oil, or enough to coat the bottom of a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until soft and shiny. Turn up the heat to medium high and add the garlic. Let this cook for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly, until the garlic is fragrant, then add in the Brussels leaves. Saute until the leaves are browned around the edges and crispy. Mix in the chicken meat, the lemon zest, lemon juice, and thyme then salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to medium low to keep warm while you wait for pasta to cook.
Cook pasta according to package directions (or if using homemade, cook pasta in boiling, heavily salted water for 3-4 minutes or until al dente.) Use a ladle to spoon out a cup of the pasta water before draining. Add the pasta to the Brussels and chicken mixture and spoon in a little of the pasta cooking water if it looks a little dry in order to help make a sauce. Drizzle another tablespoon or two of olive oil and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Plate and heap on the cheese for serving.