real life test kitchen: almost dell’anima brussels sprouts

The other night I met a friend for dinner at Dell’Anima, a well-regarded Italian restaurant in the West Village. Everything that passed our lips – fluke crudo, tajarin alla carbonara — was delicious, but it was an innocuous side dish that blew our minds: Brussels sprouts with dried cherries, red onions and smoked pumpkin seeds. Honestly, we could have eaten an entire plate of these and left happy. After hearing our raves, our gregarious waiter told us to look them up on YouTube. Two of the restaurant’s chefs, Andrew and Francis, put up a video that demonstrates how they make their signature side. The first thing I noticed when watching these two at work: They are cooking for a crowd! They use about a quart of honey. Eegads. They also did some magic with a “smoker” to prepare the pumpkin seeds. I decided to improvise with what I had on hand and used roasted walnuts instead.

Here’s my interpretation of Brussels Sprouts Dell’Anima:

1/4 cup of honey
3 tbs of white wine vinegar
1 tsp of peppercorns (pink if you have them)
a couple of twigs of fresh rosemary
4 cups of Brussels sprouts — quartered, with leaves pulled and reserved separately
1/2 a large red onion, sliced thin
1/2 cup of dried cherries
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
2 tbs olive oil

First, mix honey, vinegar, peppercorns and rosemary in a small saucepan. Simmer on a very low burner for at least 15 minutes until all ingredients are incorporated and sauce is fragrant. Meanwhile, chop Brussels sprouts and onions.

Next, toast the walnuts slightly in a large, dry pan on the stove. Remove and set aside.

In the same pan, add oil and when hot, begin cooking Brussels sprout quarters. Stir frequently for about five minutes. Then add in red onions and continue to cook another five to ten minutes. Once they are tender, add in outer leaves of the Brussels sprouts and cook a little longer. It’s okay if some them brown slightly and crisp. Once they are a texture you like (tender but crispy), toss in cherries and walnuts, and cook for a few more minutes. Finally, stir in sauce and heat through for another minute. Serve and enjoy!

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