Sometimes things just don’t go as planned in the kitchen. You accidentally add too much salt, forget to add butter, or use wax paper instead of parchment paper- all things that leave you with a sour taste in your mouth or dashing to the store for a last minute replacement meal.
But accidents are lessons in disguise. I have done all the the above and trust me, once you make a big mistake, chances are it will not happen again. You eventually learn to trust your instincts in the kitchen, have some fun and figure out that when there is a will there is always a way.
Take for example this recipe for Caramelized Brussels Sprouts. Until 2 years ago, if you had asked me to eat a Brussels sprout, I would have looked at you like you had three heads. It wasn’t going to happen. My dad has always loved them, but to me they were sour, nasty and smelled funny. Then my mom handed me a recipe for caramelized Brussels sprouts and asked that I make them for Christmas dinner. I’m sure I hemmed and hawed and I probably said NO, but my mom knows best! That recipe, made in a skillet, changed my life. Okay maybe it wasn’t that dramatic, but it changed my view on the a vegetable that I despised and made it one that I now have a slight obsession with.
Last weekend I was up at my parents and found some Brussels sprouts that if we didn’t eat immediately they were headed for the trash. Of course I wanted to make the Christmas recipe. But I couldn’t find the right cookbook and we already had pasta and sauce cooking on the stove. It was also Sunday afternoon and I was running out of time before I had to go. But I really, really wanted Brussels sprouts! There was a glass pie dish sitting on the counter that was clean and I thought “I can work with this”.
Oddly enough, I had never baked Brussels Sprouts before, let alone in a pie dish! I typically steam or cook them on the stove. But the size of the dish was just right and I decided to roll with it. I wasn’t sure what the results would be in the oven or if they would caramelize, but they ended up perfect- crispy, caramelized and full of flavor.
So what’s the moral to this story? It’s like the amazing chef Jonathan Waxman says, “a good cook should be able to cook anything, anywhere, on anything.” Don’t be afraid to take some chances and use what you have in your fridge. You aren’t guaranteed great results every time, but if you don’t try you will never know!
This is not the Christmas recipe (I promise to post that when I do find it because it really is just so good). I simply trimmed and sliced the Brussels sprouts in half, tossed in oil and lemon juice and then sprinkled with salt, pepper and dash of cayenne pepper (for a bit of kick). I typically like a lot of salt when the Brussels sprouts are crispy, but I suggest that you keep it light while baking. You can always add more once they are out of the oven.
Quick tip: I recently read that if you a lemon lengthwise (see photo above), instead of across the middle, you will get more juice when you squeeze. I am not expert, but I think they are on to something with this and thought I would share. If you try it out, let me know your results!