We’ve all been there. As the family sits around a table, a roasted turkey or ham is carved into slices. It’s a primal scene. It’s part of some hunter-gatherer genetic memory, one that’s baked into our brains. Well, I think I’ve found a vegetable dish that has the presence of a ham, and gives you the savage but civilized satisfaction of wielding a knife at the table. It’s a Roasted Brussels Sprout Stalk with Balsamic Reduction.
A Roasted Whole Brussels Sprout Stalk is Easy
To be honest, it wasn’t my idea. my friend Julie Kendrick, writer and hostess extraordinaire, served one at a party at her house. It was a delightfully surprising way to put a vegetable out on the buffet, and let everyone carve a few sprouts for her plate. Of course, I resolved to pilfer the idea, straightaway.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?
I soon realized that the whole stalk roast was a clever way to avoid the work of trimming and cutting the Brussels sprouts before cooking! The only obstacle is getting a whole stalk. Our local farmers grow the stalk, like a little tree, then as the season goes on, they lop off Brussels sprouts as they mature. The Brussels tree keeps giving, generating new buds until the weather just gets too cold. That’s why you only see the whole stalks in the market in late Fall.
Ask a Farmer for a Whole Brussels Sprout Stalk
I was on the prowl for one, so I asked all the farmers at the market who were selling loose Brussels sprouts. They didn’t have them that week, but promised to bring one the following week. I snapped it up. I think it cost $7, which is alot less than a ham!
Of course, if you garden, you can grow them yourself. I’m sure that is what Julie did, since she has a big garden, overflowing with veggies all summer long. If you are inspired, you can start planning your garden now, and make room for a few of these epic Brussels Sprout plants.
Balsamic Reduction is the Easy Sauce
So, while my massive Brussels Roast was in the oven, getting sweet and slightly charred, I boiled some balsamic vinegar to make a thick, syrupy drizzle. I’m obsessed with reduction these days, and the act of condensing foods down into intense concentrations. Balsamic has the ideal balance of sweet and sour to reduce, and it only takes a few minutes. Seriously, 10 minutes, tops.
If you can’t find a whole Brussels sprout stalk, you can still make this, just trim and halve a pound of sprouts and toss them with oil, and roast for 20 minutes. Then pile them on a platter with some white space around them so you can make the zig zag drizzle across the top.
Because plants deserve to get the same star treatment that hunks of animal do. Really.
Brussels Sprout Recipes: Szechuan Brussels Sprouts
Brussels Sprout and Pumpkinseed Slaw
Whole Roasted Brussels Sprout Stalk with Balsamic Reduction
- 1 stalk Brussels Sprouts
- avocado or extra virgin olive oil
- coarse salt
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Place the whole stalk on a large baking sheet, and spray or drizzle with oil, brush to coat. Sprinkle with coarse salt.
- Roast for about 20 minutes.
- While the sprouts roast, pour the balsamic into a small pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a medium simmer and let cook until reduced by half. It takes 10-15 minutes. The liquid will become thick and shiny. Transfer to a small pitcher or bowl.
- To serve, place the roasted stalk on a large platter or cutting board and drizzle with balsamic reduction. Serve the rest on the side. Proide a knife to cut the sprouts from the stalk at serving.