Tag Archives: Brussels Sprouts

Day 31: Bacon confited-Guinea Fowl Heart with Brussels Sprouts and Blackcurrant Preserves

23 Feb

Yesterday I put the liver saved from a whole roasted guinea fowl (guinea hen) to good use. Today I’ll be using the heart. Heart is a bit tricky, since it’s a tough little muscle, and cooking it over a high heat can give it an elastic band consistency. Slow cooking it in fat is a good way around this. I got the idea from a meal a couple of year’s ago at DC’s pig-centric restaurant Eola. Chef Daniel Singhofen served Confited Pork Heart with Mashed Turnip, Brandied Cherries, Pecans, and Bronze Fennel as an hors d’oeuvres, to get his diners to give offal a shot. It’s worth giving a whirl – it’s free since a lot of whole birds come with it in the cavity. Heart’s pretty healthy too – it does contain some cholesterol, like most animal proteins, but it’s also packed with Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Riboflavin, Vitamin B12, Iron and Zinc.

Bacon confited-Guinea Fowl Heart with Brussels Sprouts and Blackcurrant Preserves

1/4 strip bacon
1 Guinea Fowl heart
1/2 Brussels sprout, cut in half
1 tablespoon vegetable broth
1 demitasse spoonful blackcurrant preserves

Slice the bacon very thinly then render it in a non-stick pan. When the bacon is crispy, use a slotted spoon to remove it to a plate. Pour the bacon into a boiled egg cup. Allow the bacon fat to cool slightly, then add the heart. Put the egg cup in the microwave and set to “keep warm” for 2 to 5 minutes, or until the heart is cooked through. Heart gets tough very easily, so it’s important not to cook the heart on high. Sear the cut sides of the Brussels sprout quarters in the hot pan, and season with salt. Add the vegetable broth and simmer until the broth has evaporated. Slice the heart very thinly and reserve the bacon fat for another use. Serve the heart garnished with Brussels sprouts, reserved bacon, and blackcurrant preserves.


Day 10: Potato-Celeriac Brandade de Morue with Brussels Sprouts

15 Jan

Fishing being what it is, cod has gone in my Granny’s lifetime from being so cheap that you feed it to the cat, to being one of the most expensive fish you can find in the UK. If you haven’t read sustainability superhero Barton Seaver’s For Cod and Country, it’s a fabulous peek into the world of sustainable seafood with a great guide into buying sustainable fish year round. And it touches a bit on  what’s made our fish the way it is today.

However, I digress. Salt cod is one of those Mediterranean staples – whether you call it bacallao (Portuguese) or baccala (Italian), or if you mash it into potatoes for a brandade de morue (French) – that has the lovely advantage of aging well. Unlike fresh fish, it won’t go bad inside of days, and once it’s been thoroughly soaked in several changes of fresh water, it tastes only mildly saltier than its fresh counterpart. It also tastes very fresh, since it’s usually packed in salt quite soon after being caught, butchered and portioned.

Brandade de Morue is one of my all-time faves. It began its life as a peasant dish and still does pretty well with a slice of crusty bread, slathered with butter or aioli.

This is what soaked salt cod looks like. Be careful when you season the rest of the dish – go easy on the salt, since the fish will still remain quite salty even after a thorough soaking.

Celeriac, or what you Yanks call “celery root,” makes an earthy addition to mashed potatoes.

Potato-Celeriac Brandade de Morue: Mustard-whipped Potatoes and Celeriac, Salt Cod, and Brussels Sprouts

2 Servings

3 pieces salt cod
4 medium potatoes, peeled
1/3 celeriac, peeled
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 sprig thyme
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon oil
2 cups Brussels sprouts, separated into leaves (you can keep the middle bit)
Water or chicken stock
1 teaspoon mustard

Soak the salt cod in several changes of water in the fridge, for about 12 hours. Put the potatoes and celeriac in a pot and cover them with water. Bring to the boil and simmer until they are cooked through. Strain the potatoes and celeriac and pass them through a potato ricer. Season with 1/2 of the milk, the butter, and salt and pepper. Return to the pot and keep warm.

Strain the salt cod and put in a small pot, covered with fresh water. Bring to the boil and simmer until the fish just starting to become flaky. Remove from the heat and allow the cod to cool a little in the cooking water. When the water is just luke warm, remove the fish from the water and allow to drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Heat the remaining milk with the thyme and garlic in a small sauté pan until it comes to the boil. Remove from the heat and mash with the cod in a bowl. Keep the fish in small pieces – it’s a bit more interesting texturally that way.

Heat the oil in a sauté pan and add the sprout leaves. Season with salt and pepper and wilt slightly. Add a little water or chicken stock. (If you are not on rations you can cook them in chicken stock and butter). Cook just until the sprout leaves are cooked through. Remove from the heat.

Add the mustard to the potato mixture and mash it with the cod. Put in a lipped bowl and top with the sprout leaves. If you have some good olive oil, go ahead and drizzle it over the dish. Wish I could. Sigh.

Day 2: Brussels Sprouts, Bacon, Walnut and Apple Salad

6 Jan

As a kid, I spent several years in New York. I was a Brit but I managed to cultivate two accents to avoid being scolded. One for use around fellow Brits (English accent), and one for use at school to avoid being teased (American accent). Sadly I’m no longer bilingual in that sense anymore. But every Christmas, we would return to Britain to visit my grandparents. Granny was and is a fantastic cook. Her cakes are legendary, and the highlight of Christmas day was the appearance of her homemade sausage rolls. But Christmas lunch always included Brussels sprouts. Possibly foreigners heard about the way the English make Brussels sprouts and expanded the horror these wilted, sulphuric vegetables inspired when boiled for about 10 hours to include all British food. No wonder my mother still won’t eat sprouts today. But seriously, people. We don’t boil everything. Not all of our food sucks. I promise.

My parents raised me to politely eat everything served at someone else’s house, whether I liked it or not. I would try and think about the chocolate santa ornaments on the Christmas tree (that I used to filch when nobody was looking and inhale at an alarming rate behind the sofa until I was thoroughly sick) as I tried as hard as I could to swallow the mushy, tasteless sprouts. Years later, I had Brussels sprouts for the first time cooked as God intended, lightly charred and tossed with bacon and a light maple glaze. Light dawned. Brussels sprouts were not a scourge on humanity after all!

While I love the simplicity of bacon and sprouts in perfect harmony, occasionally I have to eat salads. Or so I’m told. This is as close as I could get to my favorite sprout-bacon combo, but in salad form.

Brussels Sprouts, Bacon, Walnut and Apple Salad

1/8 to 1/4 cup small diced bacon
2 wafer thin slices onion
6 to 8 Brussels sprouts, shaved thin on a mandolin, cores discarded
1/8 apple, preferably Braeburn, cored and cut julienne
2 or 3 walnuts, cut into chunks
Salt and pepper
Apple cider vinegar

Render the bacon in a pan until crispy, carefully saving any drippings. Remove from the pan and allow to cool slightly. Mix the onion, sprouts and apple in a mixing bowl with the walnuts, salt and pepper, vinegar and oil. Serve.

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