Every year my office has a Thanksgiving potluck for lunch one day a week or so before Thanksgiving. The company buys the turkey and everyone brings the rest. I love that I work at a company that encourages this kind of thing, but even more I love that the food is always great. My co-workers are by and large very good cooks. And by the time the whole office brings something, it’s usually bigger (and sometimes better) than my family Thanksgiving dinner.
Over the years, I’ve rather gotten the reputation of office mom (for all that I’m not, well, female.) I plan the office lunches, Christmas party, birthdays, etc. For the last few years, I’ve been in charge of roasting the turkey and making gravy for the Thanksgiving potluck. Most of the office leans more to the traditional, so I keep the turkey pretty traditional as well…no crazy flavors or 3-day brines or anything of the sort. So whatever else I bring to the potluck is where I get to be a bit more creative.
Well, this year I was looking for something perfect to bring (and had in fact been eyeing this Lemon Maple Frisee) when I stumbled across these brussels sprouts. I knew they had to make it past my miles-long “make some day” list onto the “I’m actually going to make this” list, and what better time to pile on loads of cream than the holidays?
I think it was a good decision all in all. Everyone seemed to like them, and I got more than one “I don’t like brussels sprouts, but since you made them, I thought I’d give them a try and they were really good.” Which is awesome on about a million levels, the first of which being that it makes me happy to an almost embarrassing level when I can get someone to try something they don’t think they like and find out they actually do like it. Course, anything given a good bit a caramelization, then doused in cream is bound to help that goal.
Adapted from All About Braising by way of Orangette
This is a pretty large batch, suitable for a family Thanksgiving or a potluck. For a more normal-sized recipe, cut everything in half.
For the potluck, I did everything up to the simmering the night before. I split that step in half: I simmered for just 5 minutes, then cooled and zapped in the microwave for about 5 minutes to serve them. They would have been a bit better immediately, but still quite good warmed up like that.
2.5 lb. Brussels sprouts
5 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp sea salt (or so)
1 large red onion, halved and sliced thinly into half-rings
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup half & half
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Trim the stem end of each sprout and pull off any ragged or nasty outer leaves. Cut the sprouts in half from stem end to tip, and then cut each half in half again. Ultimately, you want little wedges. (If the sprouts are smaller, just cut them in half, not quarters.)
Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent: about 5 minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking until onions are an even caramel brown and have reduced in volume to about 1/3 the original size, about 10-15 minutes more. (If the onions start to brown unevenly, turn down the heat.) Remove from heat and set aside.
Melt 2 Tbsp butter each in two large skillets over medium-high heat. Add half the Brussels sprouts to each skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sprouts are nicely browned in spots, about 5-10 minutes or so. I like mine to get some good color here, so that they have a sweetly caramelized flavor. Combine the sprouts into one pan and add the salt.
Pour in the cream and half & half, stir to mix, and then cover the pan. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer about 20 minutes, until the sprouts are just tender. The cream will have reduced some and will have taken on a creamy tan color.
Remove the lid, and stir in the onions and balsamic vinegar. Taste for seasoning, and adjust as necessary. Let the pan simmer, uncovered, for a minute or two to thicken the cream to a glaze that loosely coats the sprouts.
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