Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sensational Sides

My Daughter Maggie

In this week’s article, we are going to explore some side dishes that are sure to be a big hit at your holiday dinner party. One is an old favorite that has recently reemerged on many menus this season.  The other is a creative twist on a staple of many tables.

You may remember Brussel Sprout as those nasty little “cabbages” that you rolled around on your plate as a kid. At least that was my recollection.  Today, I love them.  

Here are a few interesting fact about this curious vegetable as well as a recipe for preparing them.

  • Brussel Sprouts are said to be named after a city in Belgium but few historians believe they originated there. The first written record of them dates back to ancient Rome in 1587. 
  • Brussel Sprouts thrive in a cool climate (45-75 degrees) and are said to be sweetest when harvested after a stiff frost.
  • The majority of domestic Brussel Sprouts are grown in the coastal areas of central California. This area is ideal because of its fog and cool year round temperature. The domestic harvest is approximately 32,000 tons, valued at $27 million dollars.
  • They are a cultivar of the same species that include cabbage, collard greens, broccoli, kale and kohlrabi.
  • Varieties include bubble, jade cross, oliver, prince marvel, royal marvel and valiant.
  • The Sprout is high in vitamins A & C, folic acid and dietary fiber. They are also an excellent anti oxidant.

Serves Two

 Brussel Sprouts with Bacon & Balsamic                     

10 oz.               Brussel Spouts, blanched and halved
1 Tbl.               Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 slices            Apple Wood Smoked Bacon, cut into ½”pieces
1 tsp.               Minced Garlic
½ tsp.             Kosher Salt
A Pinch          Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp.              Granulated Sugar
2 Tbl.             Balsamic Glaze

To blanch the sprouts, bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Trim the stem ends of the sprouts and boil until fork tender. Immediately drain and plunge in ice water to chill them quickly. Drain again.

In a medium sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the bacon and sauté until 75% cooked. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.

Add the brussel sprouts, toss well and season with salt, pepper and sugar.  Sauté the sprouts until heated through, approximately 3 – 4 minutes.

Add the balsamic glaze, toss well and transfer to a serving platter. Serve immediately.

Idaho Potato Soufflé 

 The baked potato has been a staple for many years. Here’s a unique twist to this classic, Idaho Potato Soufflé.

Serves 4
4 large            Idaho Russet Potatoes
1 Tbl.               Roasted Garlic Puree
2 Tbl.              Melted Butter
½ cup            Heavy Cream, heated
¾ tsp.            Kosher Salt
½ tsp.            Ground Black Pepper
4 each            Large Eggs, separated
1 Tbl.              Minced Chives
½ cup            Smoked Gouda Cheese, shredded
2 Tbl.              Parmesan Cheese, shredded
                        Chive Sticks for garnish

Wash the potatoes and pat dry.  Place on a metal baking tray and bake the potatoes in a 400 degree oven until fork tender, approx. 45 – 50 minutes.  Remove and cool slightly.
Cut the top 1/3rd of the potato off horizontally.  Reserve the tops for plating.

Scoop the meat out of each potato leaving a wall of skin approximately ¼” thick. Mash the potato meat through a ricer or food mill.

Weigh out 1 lb. of the mashed potato and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the roasted garlic puree, butter, cream, salt & pepper, and 4 egg yolks.  Blend well with a wire whip.
Add the chives and both cheeses and mix again until thoroughly incorporated.

In a separate mixing bowl, whip the 4 egg whites with a wire whip to stiff peak stage.

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the whipped egg whites into the potato mixture.

Fill each of the potato skins with the potato mixture. Place on a metal baking tray and bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes. Place the potatoes on a large serving tray and lean the potato tops against each potato; garnish with chive sticks.  Serve immediately.


Chef Joe

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