Brussels Sprout Potato Baked Mash, whether made with some of those festive leftovers or made fresh, the combination of soft cooked veggies and the sweetness and pungent nature of the caramelized onions and roasted garlic, makes for a wonderful side dish or even a main vegetarian plate!
Brussels Sprout Potato Baked Mash is one of those let’s curl up on the couch, with spoons in hand, sharing this comforting puree of boiled brussels sprouts, and potatoes. Then nicely mixed with seasoning and some onions that have been slowly sauteed to release all that wonderful sweetness, and the buttery, pungent nuttiness of the roasted garlic, which is a perfect pairing to the veggies. The outcome: sheer comfort enjoyment, no plates needed!
Well, it has been quite a year, 2016. I believe many of us have been put through a test of patience, compassion, and review. I know many of you have expressed a disgust with the ending of 2016, we have lost many great actors and musicians. It is sad and really out of our control, the suffering in the world continues, and the news carries with it an anxiety towards our future. How do I cope with all that is going on? Well, I divide everything into compartments and as a famous quote says, “Have the courage to change the things that can be changed, and the acceptance to surrender those that are out of your control”. I can only change how I live my life and choose to live positively, and also I don’t really watch the news, try to fill my mind with great memories and funny movies, or films that evoke inspiration. My dream is a peaceful world, and maybe it’s a big dream but I’ll tackle it one dish at a time, lol.
The best thing I find, is to loose myself into being creative and preparing wonderful dishes that I love sharing with my family and people I meet, and also playing all those musical instruments. It helps me release frustrations, share joy and introspection. Just the other day I was feeling frustrated, pulled in every direction possible. I went to the laundry room to do some laundry and stopped at the music room and just stared at my drum set. Then it came to me, get on those drums and express that frustration. Well, I worked up quite a sweat, creating rhythms expressing anger, frustration, and a prayer to some higher power to give me the strength to deal with what is going on right now. I love what was coming to me, funkadelic beats combined with primal deep resounding booms from a deep drum to my left. I played until I had no strength left and the sweat dripped down my brow. I came up and Nicoletta was still moving to the echoes of the beats, and she said “why did you stop”, and I replied “tiredness”. We both smiled.
I know I have wavered a bit here, just wanted to reflect a bit. So here we are, 2017, a new year, excitement, and plans. It is funny how the new year brings thoughts of health and change, and what better way to eat healthy than preparing Brussels sprouts. Brussels sprouts are not a favorite to many, but I really love them. I have eaten them raw, roasted, on a pizza, and then in this creation that really developed from an ah-ha moment.
The thought was a mash of pre-boiled Brussels sprouts, potatoes and wanting to add some seasoning and flavors that would compliment the earthiness of this sprout, and the starchiness of the potato. So I asked myself, “self, what would be great to add to these veggies to kick them up a notch?” and self replies “caramelize some onions, roast some garlic, use a blend of salt, pepper, paprika, and onion powder”. So there I have it, all I need is to get some ingredients and just do it! Remember that jingle on tv “Why just talk about it, do it, do it, do it, participation, get with the action, do it, do it, do it!”. I love it!
Of course, the Brussel sprouts and potatoes came from our usual shopping spree at The Old Strathcona Farmers Market, from Riverbend Gardens. It is amazing how Brussels sprouts grow. They seem to just bloom of a thick stalk. Not just a few but literally a plethora of this underrated, unappreciated vegetable.
Behind the scenes of Brussels Sprout Potato Baked Mash!
The Brussels sprout comes from the Brassica family (cabbage family) which includes all types of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, horseradish, wasabi and, of course, the Brussels sprout. It is said that they have existed for thousands of years and are a product of cross breeding of some sort. There are records in the area of Brussels of brussels sprouts around the 13th century, but the French have commanded the name in the 18th century. They are known for their resilience and ability to grow in harsh environments, and also to be great for those colder climates. Brussels sprouts are full of many great vitamins and mineral, and I know some of you must be thinking: “but they smell and taste so strong!”. That only happens when they are cooked. I have made a slaw with raw ones and it was truly amazing and packed with texture and taste.
The first thing that needs to happen is to clean the Brussels sprouts. Oh, before I forget, I wanted to mention choosing them. Pick the ones that are firm and tightly wrapped, and nice and green in color. So back to the prep. Cleaning them is pretty easy, remove any loose and discolored leaves, put them in a colander, and give them a good wash with water. Get a pot of salted water on boil and drop the sprouts in. Cook them till you can pierce a fork into them. Don’t over cook them as when they are cooked too long the cell structure is broken down too much and a very sulfur taste and smell will be produced making these truly magnificent gems unappealing. In another pot put some washed and peeled Yukon gold potatoes to boil. I have to say Nicoletta had this all done, she is such a wonderful help to me, a great sous chef. To flavor this mash, I am using caramelized onion, which I did in a saute pan cooking the yellow onion in some olive oil, salt, pepper, and a bit of sugar. As the onions were cooking I added just a spoon of water so they stayed soft and steamy. Another ingredient that will bring so much flavor to the mix is roasted garlic. Easy breezy to do this. Take a head of garlic, drizzle some olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Wrap this gem in some tin foil and into a 350° F oven til the garlic feels soft. Take it out of the oven and let cool, then just squeeze the garlic from the husk.
It’s time to assemble this baked mash. Into a bowl goes the cooked Brussels sprouts, potatoes, caramelized onion, roasted garlic and finally seasoning. Pour in some milk and a generous amount of butter. Mash the ingredients with a fork. If you are feeling lazy you can fire up the processor on this one. When you have reached your desired consistency, mine being somewhat rustic and textured, I taste and season as needed. I grate some good Parmigiano Reggiano and into the mix it goes to blend. Oil up an oven safe dish and pour the mixture in. Level and dust with some more Parmigiano, and Italian bread crumbs. This goes into the oven at 400° F and baked till edges get crisp and the top starts to turn a beautiful golden brown. Out of the oven it comes and we are ready to taste this wonderful dish.
I love the top crust, crispy, golden and somewhat nutty and buttery in flavor, with that crispy pungent Parmigiano. The mash giving us that earthy Brussels sprout, soothed by the starchiness of the potato. The butter just elevating both vegetables and the textures from the coarse leafiness of the sprouts to the creamy smoothness of the potatoes, all highlighted by notes of freshly cracked sea salt and black pepper, along with some onion powder and paprika for that smokiness. This is a dish you could eat right out of the bakeware, spoon after spoon. We definitely could eat this Brussels Sprout Potato Baked Mash as a main, but it would be great as a side dish to a great grilled steak or fish. Or even among other great veggie dishes on those vegetarian nights.
The wonderful thing about this Brussels Sprout Potato Baked Mash is, it is a great dish to create out of leftovers. Get those cooked Brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes, fry up some onions and bake some garlic, blend it, mix it, bake it and truly enjoy the beginning of the new year.
Song of the day: “Reflections” by Diana Ross and the Supremes.
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