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Entries in New French (1)

Friday
Feb182011

Deep Fried Revelation: Brussels Sprouts

Crispy Fried Brussels Sprouts next to Veal Tenderloin over Parsnip Puree

A couple of weeks ago, we celebrated a friend's birthday at a restaurant called the New French. The place is cute and the food is pretty good, though not anything particularly special. But we did have one side dish which blew my mind: Crispy Fried Brussels Sprouts.

They arrived in an oval ramekin, browned on the edges, liberally dusted with parmesan cheese and slivers of fried garlic. The flavor was unlike any Brussels I had ever had--in fact, if you closed your eyes you may even mistake them for a fried artichoke (one of the great things in life). On the outside, the leaves had separated and curled a bit and were very crispy. They dissolved in your mouth as soon as you bit down, as if they were the world's most delicate potato chip. And the inside was sweet and tender, so that you had a wonderful contrast of textures within the single bite.  They were totally addictive and totally delicious.

I was pretty excited about this. I've cooked Brussels Sprouts a thousand times but I've never thought of deep frying them. So a couple of weeks later we had some friends over for dinner and I tried to reproduce the dish. I failed.

I quartered the Sprouts and heated up some canola oil. Then, for some silly reason, I threw them all in the pan at once. Two things happened. First, I quickly learned that when you attempt to deep fry Brussels Sprouts, they cause the oil to aggressively sizzle and pop. So I got a nice splash of boiling hot canola oil on my face. Second, this is a dish that must be done in very small batches, as piling them all in there drops the oil temperature and destroys all hope of crispiness. I know this is a general rule of deep frying, but I usually get away with some degree of crowding. Apparently not in this case.

So what I ended up with was a soggy pile of oil-soaked Brussels, which, although very tasty, bore no resemblance whatsoever to those magnificent crispy nuggets I'd marveled at at the New French.

Last night I catered a 10 person dinner party and I decided to try the Brussels again. It was risky, but I just had to. This time, I had a splatter guard at the ready (basically a big, flat mesh lid with a handle that you place over the pan). I grabbed a generous handful of the quartered Sprouts and tossed them in. Just as before, the oil basically exploded. After about a minute and a half I peaked under the guard. The Sprouts had browned, crisped and curled beautifully. I took one out and tasted it; much to my surprise, the inside was cooked through and it was done. It was that fast. I pulled them all out, salted them, sprinkled them with freshly grated parmesan and repeated the process.

They were delicious. A huge hit. This is possibly my favorite preparation of this vegetable. I may never go back to roasting again...

Click here for the recipe.