If you’re a Brussels sprouts lover, then this recipe is a must-try. A simple, elegant, delicious side dish.
If you’re a Brussels sprouts hater…sorry, it’s a hopeless cause and there’s no converting you. Why? It’s genetic. Yes, there’s actually a gene that explains your repulsion to all things cabbage. Read on.
In 2003 scientists located the exact gene responsible for this hatred toward Brussels sprouts. They decided to name it the “TAS2R38 gene” (they could have done better than that, surely.) It’s located on the 7th chromosome, has 1,143 bases, and it performs the role of coding for the PTC taste receptor. (All of this just further reinforces why I pursued an education as far away from math and chemistry as possible – although I did have to take some nasty statistics in grad school. Awful, awful stuff. Awful. But I’ve since recovered). So what on earth does all of that mean for non-geeks? It means this: There is a chemical called PTC (phenylthiocarbamide) that isn’t common in the human diet but is similar to chemicals found in the brassica family (cabbages and Brussels sprouts). If you happen to be the lucky/unlucky (I’ll let you determine which) possessor of the TAS2R38 gene, this gene produces a protein that interlocks with PTC and creates a strong, unpleasant taste sensation of bitterness.
Nope, there’s nothing you can do about it. You will forever hate Brussels sprouts unless you pay a ton of money to undergo hypnosis, which may not work anyway.
And if there are any kids or teenagers reading this (kudos for following a cook-from-scratch food blog!), you now have a slam-dunk excuse to give your mom or dad for not eating your sprouts. You’re welcome.
And now, for those of you who weren’t born with the TAS2R38 gene (my hand’s up), let’s get started!
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Peel and discard the outer layer of the Brussels sprouts, trim the stems, and cut the sprouts in half. Place the sprouts in a bowl, drizzle the olive oil and add some salt and pepper and toss to evenly coat. Lay the sprouts on a non-stick or lined cookie sheet.
Roast the Brussels sprouts for 16-20 minutes or until nicely caramelized/browned.
You can make the balsamic reduction in advance or make it now. Use a good quality, aged balsamic vinegar. Place it in a very small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, about medium-low, and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the vinegar has thickened enough to lightly coat a spoon. Be careful not to over-cook or the syrup will be more like taffy.
Place the grilled Brussels sprouts on a warmed serving platter, drizzle with the balsamic reduction and serve immediately.
Enjoy! (Those of you who don’t have the TAS2R38 gene – you’ll love it!)
- 1½ pounds fresh Brussels sprout, outer leaves removed, bottom stems trimmed, cut in half
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ⅓ cup good quality aged balsamic vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
- Place the Brussels sprouts in a bowl, drizzle with the olive oil and add some salt and pepper, and toss to evenly coat. Place the Brussels sprouts in a single layer on a non-stick or lined baking sheet. Place on the top oven rack and roast for 16-20 minutes or until nicely browned.
- While the Brussels sprouts are roasting, prepare the balsamic vinegar reduction: Place the vinegar in a very small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes or until thickened and lightly coats a spoon.
- Arrange the Brussels sprouts on a warmed serving platter, drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and serve immediately.