My mother is not a traditionalist in any sense of the word, whereas I try to make every event into a celebrated family tradition. Much to my dismay, my mother's devil-may-care attitude about food traditions extends to Thanksgiving, and every single year she hands me a stack of new recipes. After a bit of whining, I'm usually persuaded to try some of them out as long as I can still enjoy my green bean casserole (yes, I mean the canned version, and no, I'm not ashamed). This dish, made with baby Brussels sprouts (which are significantly less bitter than grown-up Brussels sprouts), changed my mind about two things. One, I now love Brussels sprouts. Two--I now happily try a few new recipes each Thanksgiving, in hopes of finding another time-honored favorite like this one. The rest of the family (with us that means 30+ people) agreed that these were delicious, so I'm not alone here.
Baby Brussel Sprouts & Buttered PecansGourmet, November 2006
1/2 cup chopped pecans
3 Tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 pounds baby Brussels sprouts, trimmed
1/2 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread pecans in an even layer in a baking pan. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until you can smell them. Be careful not to burn the pecans. Remove pecans from oven and toss in 1/2 Tbsp. butter and 1/4 tsp. salt until all are evenly coated.
Prepare a bowl of ice and water, large enough for the Brussels sprouts to rest in after boiling. Set aside and have ready.
While the nuts are in the oven, cook Brussels sprouts in a medium saucepan full of boiling salted water, uncovered, until just tender (5-6 minutes). Take the Brussels sprouts out of the boiling water (by draining the hot water from the pot or straining the Brussels sprouts) and move the Brussels sprouts into the ice water bowl immediately. This process is known as blanching and is important in keeping the Brussels sprouts from overcooking.
After a few minutes, remove the sprouts and pat them dry. Set aside.
Melt remaining butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and stir for about a minute. Add Brussels sprouts and cook, stirring only occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until parts of the Brussels sprouts are partially browned. Add a splash of lemon juice, pepper and remaining salt, give it all a stir and toss with the prepared pecans. Serve, and enjoy (possibly with surprise). I doubt any of your guests would complain if you served this alongside cranberry sauce and the Best Roast Turkey Ever.