Last month I left my corporate job to freelance full-time.
Yes, it’s been a big change.
Faced with days upon days of little to no human interaction, and fearing that if I didn’t have a backup plan I’d end up with little to no revenue stream, I decided to get a job at a restaurant and at the end of January started working at the newly-opened Paris Club in downtown Chicago.
At the helm of the kitchen is a James Beard winning French chef whose team turns out approachable French fare that’s unpretentious: you don’t need to speak five languages to decipher the menu but each dish blends an authentic French tradition with contemporary twist.
During the first week of orientation, the entire service staff sampled almost every dish on the menu. The food is delicious but this is where I’m going to confess that after six straight days of tastings, I never wanted to see another order of pommes frites as long as I lived.
That lasted about three days.
There is one dish on the menu that I absolutely adore….and before you start thinking that it must be the Roquefort-crusted filet mignon, the French onion soup fondue or the Maine lobster frites, I’ll go ahead and break the news: it’s Brussels sprouts.
I couldn’t be more thrilled that the green, cruciferous orbs are making their way onto trendy restaurant menus because they’re delicious, healthy and as easy to prepare at home.
So easy to prepare that they inspired me to experiment with my own leafy green vegetables for lunch this week.
Of course, if you’re in Chicago, you should come visit me at work and order the Brussels sprouts.
But if you aren’t, my recipe for Brussels braised in a little bit of butter, olive oil and chicken stock should tide you over until you can score yourself a plane ticket.
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil, divided in half
- 1 Tablespoon butter [vegan modification: omit butter and double the olive oil]
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed, outer leaves removed
- 1 cup chicken stock [or vegetable stock for a vegetarian/vegan option]
- ⅛ cup pine nuts, toasted
- ⅛ cup golden raisins
- ⅓ cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs
- 2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl, toss breadcrumbs, thyme and ½ Tablespoon olive oil. Mix until breadcrumbs and olive oil are evenly combined and free from clumps. Spread on a baking sheet and toast for about 8 minutes, or until breadcrumbs appear golden brown.
- Meanwhile, in a sauté pan or enameled cast iron French oven (such as Le Creuset) heat butter and olive oil until butter melt. Add Brussels sprouts and cook for about 5 minutes until the edges begin to caramelize. As brown bits (these are called fond and add a lot of flavor) begin to appear on the bottom of your pot, de-glaze the pan by adding half of the chicken stock. Stir and let Brussels sprouts cook in the stock for about 15-20 minutes, adding more chicken stock as needed.
- Once stock has evaporated and Brussels sprouts appear tender when pricked with a fork, add the golden raisins and pine nuts. Let cook about 2-3 more minutes and remove from heat. Place in a serving dish or bowl and top with breadcrumb mixture [you may have some extra - save them to top your next batch of macaroni and cheese!]. Season with sea salt and pepper, as desired.