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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Sprouts Revisted

Roasted. Sauteed. Hashed. Shaved. Chilled. Deep Fried. Stewed. Steamed. Broiled. Boiled. Skewered.

I think I've done everything possible to brussels sprouts except shellac a few to make bauble bracelets and clip-on earrings. Well, almost everything. There's always a riff up the proverbial sleeve. Some things can always be reimagined or tweaked.  The more I thought about it, the more jazzed I got about riffing on one of my own riffs. Why not take something I love and turn it upside down? My current go-to brussels sprouts crazy involves everything that's good and right with this world: gorgonzola cheese, sherry, chicken stock, shallots, heavy cream, and thick cut bacon. That was my starting point. Enough said. Game on.

Pureed Brussels Sprouts Soup with Gorgonzola Mousse and Crisped Prosciutto.
Pretty basic stuff.
I trimmed and quartered a pound of brussels sprouts (reserving a handful of leaves). After heating a cast iron skillet over a medium high flame, I drizzled the skillet with olive oil and tossed the brussels sprouts into the sizzling hot skillet.  When the sprouts started to caramelize, I added a minced shallot, 2 smashed roasted garlic cloves, salt, and cracked black pepper. Just before the shallots charred in the hot oil, I deglazed the pan with 1/2 cup sherry and let the sherry reduce by half before adding 1 cup heavy cream.  When the sherry-infused cream thickened, I added 2 cups chicken stock, brought the stock to a boil, reduced it to a simmer, covered the skillet, and simmered the sprouts until they were fork tender, about 7-8 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, I carefully blitzed the tender brussels sprouts, cream, and stock before returning the puree back to the skillet. After melting 3 ounces of crumbled gorgonzola cheese into hot puree, I added a bit more stock to loosen it up, and slid the skillet over a very low flame.

Gorgonzola Mousse.
I love this stuff. While downright perfect with this soup, it's also fantastic served alongside crisp pear chips or dolloped onto endive leaves with halved grapes.

I creamed  4 ounces of room temperature gorgonzola with 1 tablespoon of local clover honey and set it aside.  I poured 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream into a well chilled bowl and used a crappy handheld mixer to whip the cream into soft peaks. After folding the honey-sweetened creamed gorgonzola into the soft cream, I finished whipping the combo until it tightened and formed firm peaks.

Crisped Prosciutto.
There had to be pig. Brussels sprouts beg for bacon or prosciutto. Pick your poison. While I'm crazy for both, a crisped prosciutto garnish lends an incredible salty crackle that bacon can't deliver. Period. Ever. On top of that, it's so simple and quick to throw together.  I placed 3 paper thin sheets of prosciutto onto a sheet pan and slid them into a preheated 350 degree oven to bake for about 15 minutes. Done. Salty pig chips.

Soup's on.
After reheating the creamy puree (without boiling), I topped the soup with broken shards of prosciutto, quenelles of gorgonzola mousse, and snipped chives before finishing with deep fried sprouts tossed in a Sriracha vinaigrette. Yep.

Changed up a bit, the pureed soup had all the familiar trappings and flair of the original dish. Without the obvious bites of whole or halved brussels sprouts, the  pureed sprouts packed the same earthy punch in a softer way. As the whipped mousse melted into the warm velvety puree, it lightened the soup with airy hints of mild gorgonzola that countered the intense meaty crunch of the crisped prosciutto. While the chives provided grassy freshness, the deep fried Sriracha-laced sprout leaves added delicate fiery heat.

Sprouts revisited.

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