There’s a bit of a story behind how I fell in love with and started making Brussels Sprouts with Michael Chiarello’s Fennel Spice Rub. And after you taste them I think you will, too!
See, my son was in Scouts and we went to a huge “Rendezvous” up Nord, a nod to Minnesota’s Boundary Water’s heritage. The parents made shirts from historic patterns, everyone went in historically based costumes, kids and adults, alike. How do you get “leggins” to stay up? That’s a rhetorical question. But it’s not easy!
About Brussels Sprouts with Michael Chiarello’s Fennel Spice Rub:
For food, we researched recipes the French traders and the Native American peoples ate during the era. Our Scouts cooked them all (no help from parents) and took home several first place prizes. The favorite, by far, was a recipe for “Bean Pot,” which is really a nod to Cassoulet.
When researching, I came across Michael Chiarello’s version of cassoulet, Bean Cassoulet with Fennel Spiced Chicken and Roasted Vegetables. I couldn’t wait to make it after I got home. I was disappointed: I didn’t really care for it – but the recipe included the most AMAZING Brussels Sprouts – part of the Roasted Vegetable component.
They were so good, I started nibbling them as I made the rest of the Cassoulet and I had to remake the entire portion of Brussels for the Cassoulet – I’d eaten them all. I just couldn’t control myself! I’d sprinkle on a little of the rub, then eat a few, then another sprinkle, and eat a few more. And the whole time I was telling myself to stop because I wouldn’t have enough for that final dish and the whole time, I couldn’t stop. That Fennel Spice Rub is truly addicting!
The flavor of these Brussels Sprouts is amazing (and I’m not even a huge fennel fan). Each of the spices play a role and can be tasted both distinctly and as a beautiful melding of flavor; it’s set off by sparks of the larger-grained salt. I cannot rave enough about these Brussels Sprouts!
What to Serve your Brussels Sprouts With:
Although the Fennel gives these an Italian flair that will make these fabulous with anything Italian (think pasta or think of almost any kind or any of the classic Italian chicken dishes) try them with just about any simply cooked chicken or maybe a grilled steak.
They don’t necessarily have to go with an Italian main dish, but the Brussels Sprouts have such a complex flavor that you won’t want them to compete with very strongly flavored main dishes. Of course, you can just make a batch and eat them, and only them, like I did the first time I made these and like I still do from time to time!
Making Brussels Sprouts with Michael Chiarello’s Fennel Spice Rub:
I’ve since remade these Brussels sprouts many times. The rub is intense at first, but the flavor mellows quickly, and if you’re like me, you’ll want to sprinkle a bit more on just before serving.
The biggest flex in this recipe is the method of par cooking the Brussels sprouts in simmering water, removing them, draining them very well, and then sauteing them in oil. That makes the Brussels sprouts extremely tender (but not overcooked.) It also makes the Brussels sprouts so easy to brown in the skillet with a minimum amount of time and/or effort. They’re absolutely glorious, even before the spice rub is sprinkled over them.
Another advantage to par cooking is the Brussels Sprouts can be made to the point where they are ready to be sauteed and then put aside to finish right before dinner. This would be great if you were serving them for a dinner party.
Storing and Reheating:
Store any leftover Brussels sprouts in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days. Reheat in the microwave for a minute or two. You may wish to sprinkle a little more of that spice rub on them once they’ve been rewarmed.
I don’t recommend freezing these when left over. The process of freezing and reheating will cause them to soften so much they’ll lose all integrity and will very likely become too mushy to be enjoyable.
Saving Money on Brussels Sprouts with Michael Chiarello’s Fennel Spice Rub:
- Brussels Sprouts: I’m posting in the summer because I didn’t get around to it last fall, but Brussels Sprouts are always best in the fall, and generally at their lowest prices. For the absolute best Brussels sprouts, look for them on the stalk – I know it’s a splurge. Since their recent popularity Brussels Sprouts are available all year long but the quality might not be as good.
- Check for them at your discount stores like Aldi or Lidl. Save any slightly damaged or wilted leaves removed from the Brussels Sprouts to toss into your green smoothies or salads.
- Spices: I never worry about buying some of the more obscure spices in the whole form – the coriander and peppercorns, especially keep forever in an airtight container in a dark, cool space. The fennel has a long shelf life, as well, but will lose flavor. Toss some in your pizza sauce. It’s worthwhile seeking out the white pepper – you’ll find yourself finding all kinds of uses for it; It brings that elusive flavor you might find missing from many of your Asian and Thai dishes, and is excellent in cream sauces.
- Salt: Sea Salt is excellent here, but consider kosher if you don’t have it. There is no need to specifically seek out grey salt. What you are looking for is a salt that is distinct and larger-grained than regular old table salt.
Yanno, sometimes when I come across a recipe and rave on about it I feel kind of like a “pusher.” I guess it’s like anyone discovering something amazing and wanting to make sure everyone can try it! I hope you’ll do so and I hope you’ll like these as much as we do!
Brussels Sprouts with Michael Chiarello’s Fennel Spice Rub
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: Side
- Cuisine: American
- 1 pound Brussels Sprouts
- 1 tablespoon Olive oil
- Fennel Spice Rub (to taste)
Trim the Brussels sprouts by removing the tough outer leaves and stems. Halve lengthwise. Cook the Brussels sprouts in boiling salted water for 6 to 8 minutes until just tender. This is going to vary depending on the size of your Brussels. Don’t overcook these – you’ll be browning them next. Drain and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add the cooked Brussels sprouts to the pan. Toss until well browned, several minutes, turning as needed. Remove to a bowl and season with Fennel Spice Rub, tossing to coat.
Keywords: Brussels Sprouts, Fennel, Michael Chiarello, Olive oil, Side, Vegetable Side.