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Brussels Sprouts are King of the Cruciferous

The fall local produce selection in Northern California is amazing. Last week, we discussed a coastal legend, the artichoke, and this week, Brussels sprouts get their due.

Greens are a favorite of mine and have been ever since I was a little boy.

is what I said when someone asked what the one food I would not want to be without was. Local produce is a theme here at and we've got greens. Like the , the Brussels sprout grows well here.

Driving down the coast, past the airport, look left and you will see a crop of Brussels sprouts in varying stages of development. A strange plant indeed, they consist of a thick stalk up to three feet high that is studded with a teeny cabbage where each leaf joins the stalk.

When you buy the plant whole, the resemblance to a medieval weapon is striking. Brussels sprouts are known as the king of the cruciferous vegetable family for their sweet mild flavor. Especially when roasted at a high heat, the Brussels sprout could change your perspective on all cruciferous veggies.

The cruciferous ("with cross", I believe, in Latin) vegetables get their name from the fact that when cleaved in two, a cross is revealed. Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts are the core of this family of vegetables. It so happens they share another significant trait: they all release odorous compounds when cooked.

Two ways to reduce this are to use a giant pot when you boil them so the smells don't concentrate in your sprouts. By far the best way to get out the smelly and bring on the sweeter characteristic of all cruciferous vegetables is to roast them at a high heat. The result is a slightly caramelized, tender vegetable that the whole family will love.

Check out the videos above for more. 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Shallots and Pecans

Ingredients: 

-1 1/2 to 2 lbs. of fresh Brussels sprouts, quartered.

-2 tablespoons of your favorite fat. I like bacon fat or drippings from something else I have roasted but butter, olive oil or any other cooking oil will work.

-3 tablespoons minced shallots

-1/2 to 1 cup roasted, salted pecans

-salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450

Melt the fat of choice if necessary and toss with the sprouts in a large bowl.    Toss in the minced shallots, mixing thoroughly to distribute them evenly. Sprinkle a little salt, the pecans are salty too, and pepper. See the videos to learn an alternative where you sauté the shallots separately and toss with the pecans just before combining with the sprouts. This method provides a little more control on how cooked the shallots get but the end result is great either way.

Dump the seasoned sprouts out onto a heavy cookie sheet and roast 15- 25 minutes depending on your oven. The tips of the leaves and the shallots will become golden at about the same time the sprouts reach their ideal texture and flavor profile. Stir a couple of times in the cooking process to promote even browning.

Toss in the pecans and serve immediately. You can do ahead and then warm up but add the nuts at the last minute or they will lose their delightful crunch.

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