The Brussels Sprouts Converter
I get that not everyone loves Brussels sprouts. I adore them in every way, but the way I’m cooking them tonight will definitely add to their tiny fan base. I have Porteños restaurant to thank for this version of Brussels sprouts, and I hope they don’t mind my alterations.
I also get that it isn’t sprout season, they’re best in spring, you can even chop up the baby ones and put them in a salad. As spring progresses they get larger and less appealing, and that’s when this recipe really comes in to its own. But I saw a packet of them in Harris Farm with the suck in a customer descriptors of Baby, Sweet and Crisp, and I fell for it. I very much doubt you’d want these woody specimens in your salad, but nothing can stand up to what I’m about to do to them.
At Porteños they start off by deep frying them. Well, we can’t have that, I don’t think I’ve ever deep fried anything. What are you supposed to do with the leftover oil? I oven roast them. Chop off the bases of your sprouts then cut them in half. If they’re large, cut them in quarters. Distribute them into a small roasting pan and drizzle olive oil over them with a slightly lighter hand than you’ve seen Jamie Oliver use in every episode of his TV show. Sprinkle them with salt, then shake the pan to share the oil around. I’m going through a slow roasting thing at the moment, these will take about an hour and a half at 150 degrees. You don’t want them burnt to a crisp, but nicely browned and on the verge of mushy.
They’re actually rather sensational just like this, with a rich nutty flavour. If you want to go completely overboard, you coat them with the special Porteños sauce, which can be found on the Gourmet Traveller website, and goes like this. Place in a small jar one hundred millilitres of olive oil, fifty millilitres of vincotto and a tablespoon of hot English mustard and shake like mad. Vincotto translates as cooked wine, I’ve seen it at most delis in the inner west. I’m not sure what you’d substitute if you couldn’t get it, possibly a mixture of honey and balsamic vinegar.
Porteños serve theirs with lentils and mint. I love lentils, but they do unladylike things to my digestive system, and all my mint burnt to death last Friday, the Hottest Day Ever. Suit yourself. This recipe also works an absolute treat with cauliflower.