AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Winter Break (Recipe: Brussels Sprouts "Carbonara") DATE: 1/20/2010 04:42:00 AM ----- BODY:

Perhaps my biggest gardening challenge is that I want to grow more vegetables than I have room for in my tiny little patch. The upshot is that I crowd my plants, trying to squeeze as much in as possible, and my vegetables tend to be smaller since they don’t have as much room to spread out and grow.

So my plants are smaller than the “supermarket size” benchmark. As I harvest throughout the season, I try to thin the plants so that the survivors will have more room to grow. And I try to hold out and wait until the vegetables get bigger. With Brussels sprouts, I have an additional challenge: the weather. I want them to get decent sized, but also survive a few day frost to help sweeten these petite cabbages.

This year, winter arrived with a vengeance, and I didn’t have a chance to harvest all the Brussels sprouts before they were buried in a layer of snow. And while the snow melted off the plants, they never fully defrosted so that I could cut them off the stock… until this weekend.

I had about a 5 hour window on Saturday, after the temperatures had been above freezing for 2 days and the plants had thawed, and before the next cold front passed through. I harvested enough for a delightful meal. The rest will wait until the next thaw.

Brussels Sprouts “Carbonara”
I had intended to make a carbonara style pasta dish, substituting Brussels Sprouts for the spring peas. But as I rummaged through the refrigerator, I discovered I had run out of bacon. I did have smoked chicken in the freezer, so I added that instead – giving the dish a meaty, smoky, rich flavor. And in an attempt to keep my diet healthy, I added just a few tablespoons of cream to keep the pasta moist, but didn’t make it rich and gooey as is more traditional.

½ pound pasta
2 chicken thighs, smoked, or two slices of bacon, diced
Brussel sprouts
2 tbs. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, ch
Pinch chili flakes
3 tbs. cream
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese – at least 1/4 cup, but use more if you’d like.
Salt and pepper to taste.

1. Preheat the oven to 425F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season generously with salt.
2. Meanwhile, cut Brussels in half. Toss them with olive oil (or bacon if using), salt and pepper. But them in the oven to roast for 15 minutes.
3. Boil pasta for 1 minute less than the package instructions.
4. After the Brussels have roasted 15 minutes, toss them with garlic and chili flakes. Return to oven for an additional 5 minutes to toast the garlic.
5. Drain pasta. Toss with cream, Parmesan. Add chicken and Brussels. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper (and lemon juice)

I'm submitting this to January's "Grow Your Own" round-up.  Originally, started by Andrea of Andrea's Recipes, Nate and Annie have picked up hosting responsibilities.  

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Peter M DATE:1/20/2010 06:24:00 AM This is a fab twist on this pasta favourite! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types DATE:1/20/2010 09:06:00 AM I'm jealous that you grow your own Brussels sprouts, and this is a fantastic makeover of the traditional pasta dish. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Ravenous Couple DATE:1/20/2010 09:43:00 AM so glad you're able to save the brussel's really rare to ever see the entire stalk like that. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous noble pig DATE:1/20/2010 01:58:00 PM What a cool recipe with a twist! NIce. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger pegmal DATE:1/20/2010 03:57:00 PM Last Sunday, I went out in the snow, after dark, and harvested a small stalk of Brussels sprouts to serve to old friends from Hoboken. They are adventurous in their food consumption and great culinary creators......but alas, no room for a garden of their own. Those were delicious, but like your own crop, on the small side as I planted them in September. It was worth the wait! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Cinnamon-Girl♥ DATE:1/20/2010 07:31:00 PM Who could resist this? Even a dedicated Brussels sprouts hater would cave! It sounds incredible! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Melissa DATE:1/22/2010 12:59:00 AM Man, I would love this. I assume small and frosted and defrosted didn't mean they lost any flavor. You didn't indicate that it did. That seems so funny to me. I know nothing of gardening, but I will be getting a house in about 18 months and I'm going to be asking for advice! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Julia DATE:1/22/2010 07:28:00 AM Peter M, T.W. and noble pig - Thanks! Though, I'm thinking it was quite generous to call it "Carbonara"

Ravenous Couple -- The stalks are showing up more and more in the market, though usually not this late into the season (winter).

Pegmal -- your friends are lucky that you could share with them.

Reeni - never understood how someone could dislike brussels -- especially the frost bitten which are sweeter.

Melissa -- all the could actually improved the flavor -- made them sweeter. And surprisingly, the texture didn't suffer either. ----- --------