Forget decorative gourds. Fall is Brussels sprout season, as far as we're concerned.
We love when they get all sweet and caramelized from roasting. But we also love the raw, nutty leaves in a salad. Or flash-cooking thin slices to enhance their natural nuttiness.
The folks at New York City's Union Square Cafe share our obsession: Brussels sprouts have been a recurring seasonal side since the restaurant's opening in the mid-'80s, cooked in many different ways over the years.
So, for this very Union Square edition of Quick vs. Slow, we tapped the restaurant's executive chef, Carmen Quagliata, and the Union Square Cafe Cookbook, by Danny Meyer and Michael Romano, for two completely different, but equally delicious, ways to cook the baby cabbages — just in time to start your Thanksgiving side-dish planning.
First, we'll take it slow. Quagliata actually hated Brussels sprouts when he was a kid, but these days he likes the "rendered delicious flavor" that develops when Brussels sprouts are roasted. For full-on fall flavor, perfect for a set-it-and-forget-it Thanksgiving side or as a complete meal in itself, he tosses sprouts with butternut squash, apple, and sage in melted butter with a little maple syrup, roasts them until golden brown and serves them topped with some of the best candied walnuts we've ever tried (see the recipe).
The cookbook speeds things up nicely: In the preparation we tried, Brussels sprouts are thinly sliced and very quickly "hashed" with lemon, garlic, white wine, and poppy seeds for a side dish that's crunchy, green, and completely refreshing (see the recipe). There's a good amount of chopping involved, so you'll want to set aside more prep time, but once you hit the stove the sprouts are done in about three minutes, as opposed to 40 minutes of roasting in the oven.
So, which is better, fast or slow? They're both winners in our book. But, if you're trying to decide which one to make, Quagliata suggests considering how you want to organize your prepping and cooking time in the kitchen, and what flavors and textures you want on your plate.
That said, we'd understand if you need to double up.