So about those fucking Brussels sprouts. David Chang's advice that you “can't fuck them up. Cook the shit out of them; just don't turn them to charcoal,” is the most basic and probably best of recipes for the vegetable. Just add salt. But for self-avowed 'sprout haters, such a purist approach can be daunting. I can speak from experience, as a food lover who had a life-long disdain for the micro, cabbage-like globes until last fall and winter when my Beachgreens CSA delivered them week in and week out and I got tired of letting them go to rot in the fridge. Flash forward to a few months ago: I pulled the first bag of Brussels sprouts of the season out of the CSA box and was immediately stoked. Looking forward to cooking the shit out of them, I suddenly caught myself–what the fuck had happened? I was getting excited about Brussels sprouts? Who am I? But the existential crisis was short lived: there was cooking and enjoying and eating to be done.
I've cooked them in a variety of ways, but one I've settled on as of late–which bears some resemblance to Chang's recipe as shared here with GQ–pairs their own bitter, spicy kick with the unique, funky acidity of apple cider vinegar and a sharp and spicy hit of Sriracha. Both ingredients are emulsified into a vinaigrette with a few tablespoons of olive oil, which the vegetables–appropriately cooked to shit, with a good amount of char on the cut side–are tossed in before serving. The one-two punch of chili and funk blends in with the Brussels sprout's distinct flavor–which comes from the same compound mustard gas is derived from, found in all Brassica vegetables (cabbage, radishes, turnips, etc.)–to make for a perfect vegetable side dish capable of standing up to the most strongly flavored roasted or braised meats; they have serious amounts of flavor.
Brussels Sprouts with Sriracha-Cider Vinaigrette
1 pound Brussels sprouts
1 tablespoon cooking oil (or, you know, some bacon grease)
salt and pepper
2 teaspoons Sriracha
1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1. Peel off any wilted and/or dirt-crusted (because you did get these from the farmers' market, right?) leaves from the Brussels sprout. Trim the stems of any oxidization or discoloration and then slice them in half.
2. Heat the oil (or bacon grease) in a skillet–preferably cast iron–over medium-high heat. Place the Brussels sprouts cut-side down and reduce the flame to medium. Don't overcrowd the pan–this is kind of like Julia Child and mushrooms: if they're too close together, they'll steam instead of brown.
3. While they're browning, prepare the vinaigrette by whisking together the Sriracha and vinegar, then adding in the olive oil in a steady stream, making an emulsion. Like any vinaigrette, this is easily riffed upon by adding fresh herbs, some crushed garlic, etc., etc.
4. After the cut sides are browned, toss the vegetables around in the pan, seasoning with salt and pepper. Leave them to cook until they're just to the crisp side of tender. And a pat of butter to the pan and toss them around again.
5. Dump the hot Brussels sprouts directly into the vinaigrette and toss them to coat thoroughly, then serve.