Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Sweet Wine


We all need our little luxuries every now and then. I don’t mean great big luxuries like private yachts or a hotel chain named after you. Little ones like a sublime square of top quality chocolate or a dress that makes you feel like Audrey Hepburn. You know…the small stuff.

In the realm of gastro-luxuries I have me favorites – foie gras, fancy French restaurants, really good chocolate, spare-no-expense sushi dinners…and Brussels sprouts.

If you have been reading this blog for a while now, you would know that I absolutely adore this much-maligned vegetable. But a luxury? Brussels sprouts?

Consider this: Over here, a small Styrofoam pack of about 300-400 grams of Brussels sprouts would cost me as much as one round of veggie shopping at the grocery. Want a clearer picture?

One 300-400 gram pack of Brussels Sprouts = 1 big head of cabbage (1.2 kilo) + 174 grams young corn + 174 grams snow peas + 1 bunch cilantro + 500 grams cauliflower + 500 grams calamansi (calamondin, our local lemon-lime) + 600 grams white onions + 3 bunches lemongrass + 3 packs black peppercorns

Another way of looking at it:
Brussels Sprouts in one meal = Vegetables for 3 meals + random aromatics for other dishes

Sigh…but perhaps it is the infrequent consumption that comes with its high price-tag that makes this little veggie so luxurious to me. After all, if you can have something everyday, doesn’t it stop being a luxury?

So when I do splurge on Brussels sprouts, I like to treat them well. This lucky bunch got bathed in a splash of sweet dessert wine.

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Sweet Wine

  • Olive oil
  • 400 grams Brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed and cut into halves or quarters (depending on size)
  • 30-50 grams bacon, cut into small strips
  • 2 tablespoons Botrytis Semillon (or any dessert wine of your choosing)
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

- Heat some olive oil in a pan.
- Add bacon when oil is hot and sauté until done but not too crisp.
- Add sprouts and sauté until it starts to soften and get brown around the edges.
- Cover pan for about 5 minutes or until sprouts are soft.
- Uncover pan and add wine, deglazing and scraping at any brown bits on the pan.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serves two.

Botrytis is actually a disease that strikes the Semillon grapes. One type rots the grapes and damages the harvest. The other however, referred to as the “noble rot”, acts on the sugars and concentrates them…producing enticingly sweet and full-flavored dessert wines. We had some left over from a dinner party that I was planning to poach some fruits in, when I came upon the sprouts and the wheels in my head started turning. My beloved Brussels sprouts + chic dessert wine + smoky bacon = sweetly glazed luxurious sprouts and bacon deliciousness!

It’s good to spoil yourself once in a while…you deserve it! :)


Manggy said...

Haha, I know what you mean. I think the only time I've seen them was at Santi's. Doesn't make sense that we don't grow it more, as it's basically just a tiny cabbage (of course, the land owners are probably just thinking about their returns... and how almost nobody uses brussels sprouts).

glamah16 said...

Have to try this as I have all the fixings at home. I have always loved Brussel Sprouts.

P said...

Straws in the air... over at tennisandconversation, latest post is about dessert wine. Yum. Too bad we finished the bottle, no leftover for cooking. For now.

Anonymous said...

I have another way for you to enjoy brussels sprouts: it's so simple, you might not have thought of it before. Simply boil the sprouts in water, the usual way. Then make a dipping sauce of patis and calamansi, or simply patis! Dip, and enjoy. Sarap!

The Knittymommy said...

I too love Brussels Sprouts. They're not as expensive here and I do enjoy it with bacon. Instead of wine, I use chicken broth to help steam the sprouts.

In lieu of canned or boxed broth, I use a splash of water and a quater to a half of a Knorr or Maggi buillion cube.

knitties said...

I've recently discovered your blog and absolutely love it! Brussel sprouts are pretty expensive in Malaysia too and they don't normally look very fresh. I really like this vegetable but don't get to eat them very often.

Ruy said...

Thanks for the recipe!
It's just wonderful to cherish and savor life's little treasures. Small pleasures that are the building blocks of a happy and thankful existence.=)

katiez said...

They are so cheap here this time of year - but, even if they weren't, I'd indulge occasionally and treat them very well indeed. Love the idea of using sweet wine!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Manggy! Almost nobody use brussels sprouts here because you can only get it at places like Santi's and it's not cheap...so it's a horrid cycle. Farmers out there: Grow brussels sprouts...I will buy them and spread the word!

Hi Glamah16! Nice to see another Brussels sprouts lover here :)

Hi P! What a coincidence! Going over there right now :) Hope you guys are having fun!

Hi Anonymous person! That sounds good! I know I'd like it because that's how I eat the cabbage in nilaga :)

Hi KM! Thanks for the tip :) You're lucky they are not as expensive over there!

Hi Knitties! Thanks for dropping in and leaving a comment :) So glad to hear you are enjoying my site! Over here they are imported so I imagine they are not at their freshest either...

Hi Ruy! "Small pleasures that are the building blocks of a happy and thankful existence"...so true! I try to savor every small pleasure that comes my way :)

Hi Katiez! Lucky you! :) I had seen a recipe for maple-glazed Brussels sprouts so I thought that it would work well with the sweetness :)

Kalyn said...

That is really interesting. Here they are never as cheap as some veggies, but quite inexpensive most of the time. Glad you can splurge on them sometimes.

Meeta said...

If I was not worried that they would be rotten by the time they get to you I would send you a grocery cart full of these - I love what you have done with them and can now appreciate brussel sprouts a little more and not take them so for granted!

katrina said...

Now that I've tried Brussels sprouts, I can finally relate to and agree with you!

This dish couldn't be more perfect for you: your fave veggie, alcohol, sweetness, and BACON! :-D

Suzana said...

Nice flavour combo: Brussels sprouts and sweet wine! Joey, I know all about having a thing for an ingredient that it's either not available or very expensive - in my case it's cranberries. There no better feeling than having your pleasure moment no matter how much it costs or how long it took!

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Mmmmmm, bacon and brussel sprouts! Since growing our own this year (not too successfully I'll admit) I'm starting to like them a little more. The children seem to love them.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Kalyn! You are lucky to have them more affordable :) But yes, I feel lucky to that I can splurge on them sometimes :)

Hi Meeta! You are too sweet!!! They say it's the thought that counts...well, it's true because I am basking in the warmth of you kind thought right now :)

Hi Katrina! Don't you think? I love the combination too...in taste as well as in the fact that it combines so many favorite things :) So happy you can relate!

Hi Suzana! Sometimes the more you have to wait and save up for something makes it that much more special :) I have never tasted a fresh cranberry...imagine that!

Hi Amanda! Wow! You grow your own? That is a whole other universe of lucky girl! Never you mind if this harvest was not up to par...hang in there! I am rooting for you and your sprouts! :)

toni said...

I honestly don't know how Brussel Sprouts taste like. I just know they have a reputation for being terrible-tasting! They don't sound too bad though, after reading your post. And with sweet red wine, they sound even more interesting.

Brave Sir Robin said...


I visited this site for the first time just now.

I made almost this same thing last night!!

I didn't use sweet wine, but I used some vermouth and honey!!!


Great site! I'll be back!

Bordeaux said...

They're real expensive here too and sadly, so is wine. Brussel sprouts + bottle of dessert wine to make your fabulous dish= two weeks' worth of food groceries!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I love Brussel Sprouts and your dish has me salivating! Exquisite and refined!



ChichaJo said...

Hi Toni! That is what I heard as well until one day when I finally saw them, was taken in by their cuteness, tasted them, and was hooked! :)

Hello Brave Sir Robin! Thank you for stopping by :) What a great coincidence! Honey and vermouth...sounds divine! Was just reading about Julia Child and how she cooked with vermouth, and was thinking I must get a bottle...now it looks like I really must :)

Hi Bordeaux! Oh well, win some, lose some, and as far as gastronomic pursuits go, you are living in a wonderland! In my book at least :)

Thanks Rosa! :)

Anonymous said...

Weird timing. The night before last I found the most exquisite teeny tiny brussels sprouts and prepared them almost the same way, except I used port and added a tiny bit of leftover chopped onions.

I suppose it must be the season.

Anonymous said...

I love the fact that brussel sprouts are a luxury comparable to chocolate for you. In fact, I think that makes you one of the most unique people I know, and I mean that in a very good way!

Ari (Baking and Books)

Mansi Desai said...

I recently saw some nice-looking brussel sprouts on 101 cookbooks, and now yours!!:) I haven't cooked these at home ever, but maybe now I really need to try!!

Rasa Malaysia said...

I love it that you peeled the sprouts. I prefer them that way too. The whole things are hard to much sometimes. ;)

Tartelette said...

I am always at the things we take for granted. Just this past Christmas,my brother was complaining about having "foie gras" a-gain (his in-laws produce it)...I laughed and told him to have some just for me because it's not like I can find it easily!
What's cool is that I will think of you when I pick up Brussel sprouts now!!

clumsycook.com said...

I absolutely *love* the way you think. The little luxuries of life are what makes a ho-hum life into a spectacular one.

Currently my lil' luxury is fresh, crusty-outside, soft-inside french bread from a little shop that I need to drive out of my way for in Princeton. Today, Jim and I decided that worries of carbohydrates simply vanish when bread is this good.

Your brussel sprouts are gorgeous!

Truffle said...

What a perfect indulgence. I love brussel sprouts paired with smoky bacon and the addition of wine sounds heavenly!

Gattina said...

whoa, brussel sprouts are so expensive there? But this dish is absolutely delux, in the sense of taste!

Helen said...

Brussel Sprouts! Such an underrated ingredient I agree! I'll be trying this variation - thank you.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Joey this is really amazing especially when you tell me it came about from left over wine and your mind's wheels turning. I love brussels sprouts.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Anonymous commenter! :) Great minds think alike! :)

Hi Ari! Heehee :) Thanks! I take that in a good way as well :) I have been told that my logic sometimes escapes earthly bounds ;)

Hi Mansi Desai! I love 101 Cookbooks! She make vegetables look gorgeous! I have also see her Brussels sprouts recipe and hope to make it one day :)

Hi Bee! When the sprouts are a bit to big I sometimes separate the bigger leaves...well, what would be better is fresh young sprouts but that hardly ever happens since we don't grow it here...

Hi Helene! They produce foie gras??? What a lucky guy indeed! It is interesting what people consider run-of-the-mill and luxuries...I guess we also need to appreciate what is common to us (and perhaps exotic and extravagant elsewhere) just as much as we appreciate our luxuries :)

Hi Clumsycook! That's why I believe in treating myself once in a while to these things that I find special -- it just puts me in a good place and makes other, more drudge-y, parts of life more worthwhile :)

Hi Truffle! Thanks! The combination is really a good one :)

Hi Gattina! Yes! It is definitely not something I can indulge in everyday, or even every week. But I make sure that it's worth it every time I do :)

Hi Helen! Yes, I don't know how it got such a bad rep...it's yummy!

Hi Tanna! I love leftover wine in the kitchen :) It goes in everything! As for mind's wheels turning...I am sure you are familiar with that with the wonders you produce in your own kitchen :)

christine said...

Yum!! I've always thought it was sad how expensive they are here. I took them for granted in London and would just toss them with a roast in the oven or steamed with butter and salt. But seeing all the other delicious things you can do with them from you, I feel even sadder now! But they're delicious and worth the expense I think! :)

Dee said...

Its really a pity we dont have it here, but I think this is a good start. I know a lot of our new modern farmers are reading local food blogs, so Im sure they are working on it as we speak. You'll be surprised it just might suddenly appear in our markets! :) In Half Moon Bay south of San Francisco, I saw a local stall selling whole stalks of brussel apouts for just $2! :)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Nens! Your lucky you had you time with them in London :) I agree, they are worth it once in a while :)

Hi Dee! Oh I hope they are reading this post and figuring out ways to grow these little guys here! Again, if a farmer out there is trying to grow them: Email me! You have a customer for sure :)

Kasia said...

I'll try this weekend sounds really tasty :) Cheers

ChichaJo said...

Hi Kasia! Hope you enjoy it :)

annmariemarie said...

Uy, nice to know someone else appreciates brussel sprouts! I got myself some last week at the grocery *out of curiousity*. I googled about it and cooked it with caramelized onions. My boyfriend and roomate never knew what the green thing was but they ate them all up!

Champagne & Meatloaf said...

Looks good - and I'm never one to turn down a brussels sprouts recipe. Personally, I can never come up with anything other than a sautee in bacon fat.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Annmariemarie! You are not alone! :) Nice to know you got your boyfriend and roomie on to them too :)

Hi C&M! Glad to hear you like them too :) If you search my archive for my post on cream braised brussels sprouts you will find a lot of links on that post to other sprout recipes!

Dayna said...

My God, you made my childhood nemesis look DELICIOUS.
For the vegetable that left me starting at the plate for at least 3 hours, in the dark, this is one amazing act of culinary gold.

ChichaJo said...

Hey Dayna! Thanks :) Glad I could brighten up what used to be a dark memory ;) You should give them another chance! :)

Alejandra said...

I am SUCH a lover of brussels sprouts. i'm eager to try this recipe out...

ChichaJo said...

Hi Alejandra! Nice to find another brussels sprout lover out there :) Hope you enjoy this!