Dijon-Braised Brussels Sprouts

I did it! It took me over a year of squeezing in practices late in the evenings or as long back-to-back weekend sessions, but I finally passed my competency exam and am now a fully-trained “Online Counseling and Suicide Intervention Specialist”. I’m not sure how much of a “specialist” I am – I still feel very new to the whole field – but I’m very glad to finally get on with the volunteer work I set out to do so long ago.

I’m not sure if you remember my Sweet Potato & Turnip Mash w/ Sage Butter post (mmm, that was really good by the way…need to make that again soon…), but I explained there why I set out to join this non-profit organization in the first place. Their cause is still one very close to my heart and I am more excited now than ever before to be a part of such an amazing movement.

On a lighter note: this brussels sprouts recipe would normally have sparked no interest in me whatsoever if it hadn’t been for its original incarnation with chicken. Deb’s dijon chicken recipe is still an all-time favorite for us and has been gaining me more than a few fans at the office (where I’m known to trade food for programming help). Knowing just how powerful that scallion-mustard sauce is I figured the vegetarian version of the recipe should at least be given a chance. The success of my first ever brussels sprouts experience, Roasted Cauliflower with Shiitake and Sage, also gave me hope that these mini-veggies may not be the culinary horror they’re made out to be.

Dijon-Braised Brussels Sprouts (from Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients:

1   lb.   brussels sprouts

1   T   unsalted butter

1   T   EVOO

½   C   dry white wine

1   C   low-sodium vegetable broth*

2-3   shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

2   T   heavy cream

1   T   smooth dijon mustard

2   T   fresh flat-leaf parsley chopped, optional

salt & pepper to taste

* Note: For additional flavor, non-vegetarians might want to use LS chicken broth instead.

Procedure:

1) Wash and trim sprouts, then halve lengthwise. In a large heavy pan heat oil and butter over Medium heat then add the sprouts cut-side down in a single layer (brown in batches if necessary). Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and then cook sprouts without turning until bottoms are golden brown – about 5 minutes.

2) Once the sprouts have been browned (add them all back into the pan if working in batches) add stock, shallots, and wine to the pan and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce heat to Medium-low or Low – the lowest heat you can manage and still maintain a gentle simmer – and cover the pan with a lid or foil. Cook sprouts for 10-15 minutes or until they are tender, but not mushy.

3) Remove lid (or foil), gently scoop out sprouts, and add cream to simmer for a few minutes to slightly thicken. Whisk in mustard until smooth. Do a taste test and add more seasoning or mustard as you prefer. Pour sauce over sprouts, sprinkle with parsley (if using) and serve immediately. Will serve 4 as side dish or 2 as main course.

Beezer’s Notes:

I think I say this for every Smitten Kitchen recipe, but Deb definitely knows what she’s doing! I cannot wait until her cookbook comes out – even if I have to catch a train back to the States to buy a copy. Speaking of her cookbook, Deb mentioned that she perfected this recipe too late for its inclusion. I’m very glad she still shared it on her blog because it really is “the cabbage equivalent of our favorite chicken dish”: the sauce is spot-on and has a zing that brightens up the earthy sprouts. I think I simmered my sprouts a tad too strongly because the smaller halves bordered on mushy, but most of them struck the perfect combo of tender yet toothsome. The chicken version of this dish is still my favorite I have to admit. Still, if you’re looking for a vegetarian version, are trying to mix things up a bit, or maybe just convince yourself (or kids, or spouse) that brussels sprouts really can be delicious then this is the dish for you.

Overall Enjoyment:   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

Dijon Chicken

I can’t believe it: this blog is now one year old. One whole year! Wow, what have I been doing with myself? Well, I mean, I’ve been doing quite a lot. Along with chronicling my cooking I’ve balanced two jobs, researched/applied/got into graduate school,  aced a Biochemistry class, began training as a crisis counselor, devoured a mountain of books, and joined two gyms (one climbing, one traditional)…but still, a whole year?! I need to find some way to slow down this crazy ride at least a little bit if I’m ever going to remember anything, haha.

I’m wondering what this next year will look like. Once school begins my life will be, if nothing else, more predictable. More challenging for sure, but the idea of a steady schedule is like a breath of fresh air to me now. I may have less time for cooking and blogging, but I’ll make work! A gal’s still gotta eat and this gal will never go back to cafeteria food…well, maybe just once… if they have those truly horrendous but terribly delicious french toast sticks – but you didn’t just read that. Moving on!

Looking back, I’d like to think my first year here on this tiny speck of webspace has been a success. I’ve been able to share recipes with family members across the country, contribute to a homemade cookbook being put together in Canada, and find my favorites time and time again just by bringing my laptop downstairs with me. I’m hoping that, with time, my most frequently tapped recipes will become committed to memory and I’ll become one of those people. You know the kind (and if you’re lucky, you are one already): those who can saunter into a kitchen, snatch a few items with nary a glance, and mix up a miracle dish. The pros. Well, for better or worse, I’ll keep at it and maybe get there someday. Thank you for sharing this first year with me and I look forward to going through even more adventures with you all! 🙂

Dijon Chicken (from Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients:

thighs, breasts, and wings of 1 chicken* (or, if you’re squeamish, about 3 lbs. chicken parts)

1   T   vegetable oil

2 small shallots, thinly sliced

¾   C   dry white wine

¾   C   reduced-sodium chicken broth

¼   C   heavy cream

2   T   smooth Dijon mustard

1   T   finely chopped chives

salt to taste

* Note: If you’re a chicken-butchering virgin like I was, this video is very helpful. Just go slow and relax. It is trickier than he makes it look, but still easier than you might think!

Procedure:

  1. Pat chicken dry and season generously with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a heavy skillet (if you have an oven-proof one, fantastic. If not, you’ll just have to transfer later) over Medium-high heat until it shimmers. In batches, brown the chicken starting with the skin-side down and flipping only once about 5 minutes in. Deb recommends patience with this step, letting the skin “release itself” and waiting until it has a “nice bronze color to it”. In retrospect, I should have browned mine longer. In between batches of chicken, preheat the oven to 450°F.
  2. Place all chicken skin-side up in a roasting pan (or back onto your oven-proof skillet) and roast until just cooked through – about 20 minutes. If transferring chicken, save your skillet for the next step.
  3. Transfer chicken to a platter and pour any juices back onto the skillet. Add shallots, wine, and broth to skillet and boil while scraping up the brown bits til reduced by half – about 3 minutes. Add cream and continue to boil until you’ve reached the desired consistency (I let it boil for another 3 minutes about, I like my sauces thick).
  4. Remove sauce from heat and – if you want a perfectly smooth consistency – pour it through a strainer into a bowl. Not wanting to miss out on those delicious chunks of shallot, I left mine as it was. Lastly, whisk in mustard, chives, and salt to taste. Pour over chicken and serve!

Beezer’s Notes:

After my experience with Chicken with Fennel and Tomatoes and Chicken Mole, I had no doubt that I would love another recipe with bone-in chicken. I’ve had honey-mustard chicken before, but never Dijon and I felt like this must be the grown-up equivalent of a childhood classic. After sharing this feast with my brother and dad, we all agreed we knew exactly why Deb calls this her “new favorite chicken dish”: this tangy-sweet sauce will be the highlight of your week! It will make you wonder why on earth anyone would bother dressing chicken in anything else, because you certainly don’t intend to ever again. The meat is incredibly juicy and even dark-meat lovers like me will think a piece of white chicken breast is a little slice of heaven. My brother and I licked our plates clean. My dad probably would have too, if he hadn’t been repulsed by the little piggies sitting next to him, haha. I beg you: try this recipe!

Overall Enjoyment: ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

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