There’s been some debate about whether or not you should serve salad at Thanksgiving.
My stance? A traditional salad — with wan lettuce leaves from a bag, dried cranberries (the most clichéd Thanksgiving salad ingredient), and toasted pecans — is a pretty depressing thing to see on the table, TBH. But, as I get older, my body does crave some kind of crunchy vegetable situation if I’m going to eat a lot of heavy food (turkey, stuffing, gravy, etc). So what’s a Thanksgiving chef to do? Enter the shaved Brussels sprout salad.
It’s so funny to think about how recipe-obsessed I was when I started cooking. I mean, seriously, if a recipe called for a teaspoon of salt, I’d practically count the granules. Now I rarely cook with a recipe and it’s hard for me to imagine following a recipe to the letter. Which is why getting that box of CSA vegetables every week is so fun; it’s a chance for me to flex my non-recipe following muscles in the kitchen. And so it was that I had an acorn squash (I’m pretty sure it was an acorn squash) and some Brussels sprouts. My plan: to roast ’em like a rock star.
Beyoncé and I have so much in common. While she was holding tight to her secret album, waiting until last night to release it, I was holding tight to this post, only wanting to share it at the perfect moment. And now, at last, on this Friday before a snowy New York weekend (a weekend in which I’m supposed to fly back to L.A.) I’m ready to share it with you. It’s probably the prettiest thing I’ve made in a long time and, like most of the best things, it was made completely on the fly, using up all of the items in my fridge before I left for three weeks. Now I’ll have to re-buy those items when I get back because clearly I want to make this again.
When a significant other goes out of town, most people use that opportunity to watch bad movies, to pig out on ice cream, and to spread out gratuitously in bed while sleeping. Me? I make risky foods. No, I don’t mean risky in a danger sense–I’m not eating supermarket ground beef tartar–I mean in a “will this be good?” sense. I take bigger chances when Craig’s not here because if I screw up, no one’s there to scrunch up their nose. So on Saturday morning, when I woke up and wanted breakfast, I opened Nancy Silverton’s Sandwich Book and studied the recipe for a sandwich that she says is Mari Batali’s favorite. It’s basically boiled eggs on arugula doused in Bagna Cauda. I didn’t have any bread and I didn’t have any arugula, but I did have the ingredients to make Bagna Cauda. And eggs. And, also–somewhat weirdly–farmer’s market Brussels Sprouts. An idea was born.
Every year, Craig’s dad, Steve, makes the most amazing prime rib for Christmas dinner (see here) and every year I help out the best I can, usually volunteering to make a side dish. Last year I made a gratin but this year, since mashed potatoes were already on the menu, I offered up a vegetable. At my request, Craig’s mom (Julee) bought me a bag of Brussels sprouts from the grocery store and when the dinner hour grew close, I opened their refrigerator and pulled out a bevy of ingredients to help in my enterprise.
There are crafty food bloggers out there (one might call them “smart” food bloggers, or “food bloggers who actually know what they’re doing”) who see a holiday coming and WHAM BLAM they have 1,000 holiday recipes posted weeks ahead of time so by the time the holiday rolls around you’re saturated with great holiday content. As you may have noticed (except for this post) I’m not such a “smart” food blogger. I did all my Thanksgiving post cooking so last minute that now it’s a day before the big holiday and here I am sharing with you a bunch of recipes that are probably coming 48 hours too late. But for those of you who are last minute planners (and I hope there are at least SOME of you), perhaps this will come as some sort of Thanksgiving lifeline? And even if not, these recipes are delicious even when it’s not Thanksgiving. So come with me and look at these Thanksgiving recipes, even if they’re a little tardy.
“This is a coup,” said Craig, eagerly chewing a caramelized, spicy, salty, and sweet Brussels Sprout. “This could get kids eating Brussels sprouts all over the country.”
The recipe comes from superstar chef David Chang and it’s a knock-out. It’s a knock-out at his restaurant and it’s a knock-out at home. The components marry in such a way that you’ll start tap-dancing up your wall and moon-walk across the ceiling. I skipped the Rice Krispies bit because I couldn’t find Japanese five-spice powder, but it still came out fantastic.
The recipe was printed in last month’s Gourmet and you can read it online here. I also tried his recipe for the apple salad with bacon but that didn’t fare as well. The bacon I used–which actually wasn’t bacon at all, but a D’Artagnan cured pork belly that I sliced into my own lardons–didn’t produce enough fat to make the dressing. But the peanuts were a tasty snack later. And honestly, if you make a ton of those Brussels Sprouts no one will want anything else. They’re a meal–a feast–unto themselves.