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Loving brussels sprouts just like Beach Boys

10/17/13 | By Paul Suplee, CEC PCIII

I sit in shock and wonder;  I don't know what to say.  It hits me that The Beach Boys have been recording for 51 years.  That's six years longer than I've been alive; and the latter is a very long time.

I can't say that I've ever been the biggest fans of the Boys, but I have always admired what they stood for.  In the early days of Rock 'n Roll they were the godfathers of the strand, working the beaches of Southern California in that cool, laid-back fashion.  They were a symbol of relaxed adventure at a time when a lot of people needed that.

I remember as a child in the 70s thinking that The Beach Boys were already ancient.  In my room you might hear the likes of The Clash, Pistols, Iggy Pop or other sundry loud bands from the day.  The Beach Boys?  I wouldn't have listened to them if you paid me, and in the common areas of our house one was much more likely to hear classical music or the folk music popularized in that era. 

My god, I'm talking about eras.  That's it; time to throw in the towel.  What's next?  I'll like cauliflower and brussels sprouts?  Well, I do so there you have it.  I'm no longer capable of hiding my age.  Where's my Metamucil; the orange flavored kind, that is?  I'm very particular when it comes to that.

Luckily I started enjoying Brussels sprouts and cauliflower years ago since they are so ridiculously delicious, but it still surprises me how many people still won't touch them.  I have written about both before but one can never write too many good things about brussels sprouts, so here they are getting another free plug from me.

My first reintroduction to brussels sprouts as a young adult was at John Steven, Ltd., a great little gastro-pub in Fells Point Baltimore at which I worked as the sous chef.  While a student in Mob Town, I worked full-time in the restaurant business at places such as The Polo Grill, Citronelle, Weber's on Boston, Nacho Mama's, and of course the aforementioned John Steven.

I learned about a great many things on this post, one of which was to work with produce companies who would stop by to sell me their leftovers and another which was to walk down to Fells Point Meats (then in the Broadway Market) for fresh meats and poultry.

On one occasion the produce guy stopped by with a pretty rough looking case of beets and another one of brussels sprouts; I took them both not knowing what I was going to do with them.

A mere half-hour later I was trying to convince the wait staff that brussels sprouts were delicious.  No one would try them, reinforcing my notion as to why I hadn't had them in years. I persisted, and one by one the servers tried and love the sprouts.  They were a hit.

They were an easy sale for the servers.  It became a challenge for them as they themselves had been so surprisingly converted as had I.  The more the customer gave the stinky lip at the sound of brussels sprouts, the more the servers made it their mission to ensure the guests that we were serving good food.  The guests would cave, and the guests would invariably enjoy our little teeny cabbage heads.

It's all in a day's work.  And while I am happy to say that my old age is not the era in which I started to enjoy these crunchy cruciferous cabbages, I enjoy them more and more as I creep towards my golden anniversary of life. 

I guess you can't ask more than that, can you?  Now, if only I can get this blasted Beach Boys song out of my head.  It's worse than that Celine Dion tune that haunted me for a month.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

serves 6

1 Lb. fresh brussels sprouts

4 oz. country ham, julienne

2 oz. unsalted butter

2 Tbsp.  EV Olive oil

3 sprigs fresh thyme

4 cloves garlic

1 whole shallot, diced or julienne

juice and zest of 1 lemon

Salt & pepper to taste

1.     Cut the stems off of the brussels sprouts and then cut the little heads in half

2.     Cook the country ham strips in a medium hot pan until crispy

3.     Add the butter and add the olive oil, thyme, garlic, shallot, juice and zest and ham

4.     Toss the sprouts in the pan and then toss them to coat evenly

5.     If your pan is oven proof, place it in the oven.  Otherwise, spread the sprouts evenly on a baking sheet

6.     Place in a 350-degree oven until they are tender, about 30 minutes, give or take. Don't forget that all ovens are different so get used to your own oven

7.     These are great with roasted meats, grilled or roasted chicken or items that have a stronger flavor from a more aggressive cooking technique such as grilling, roasting, broiling and even frying

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