Brussels Sprouts with Dates, Cashews, Lemon

 

 

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A recent visit to Red Herring, in Eagle Rock, CA has me dreaming about a return visit as soon as possible.  We were wowed with new flavors, textures and flavor combinations that really have inspired me to hit the kitchen to experiment.  One of my favorite dishes of the night was a side to an absolutely delicious chicken and waffle dinner.  I ordered the Brussels Sprouts with Dates, Cashews, and Lemon (pictured above) which made me think about this vegetable goodness in a whole new way.  The sprouts were not charred at all as is customary these days in so many restaurants,  but rather sautéed delicately with a sauce that was sweet and slightly sticky from the dates yet buttery and rich. Finished with morsels of cashew, this dish was a knockout for me. I even found myself dipping my chicken and waffle in the goodness of the sauce.

Tonight I attempted the dish and came up with something similar.  I found a recipe from Gjelina as a guide and then slightly adapted it with the flavors from the Red Herring version.  If I make this again, I will make an emulsion in the blender with the chicken stock and the dates to make a slightly smoother sauce.

 

Brussels Sprouts with Dates, Cashews, and Lemon

Adapted from Gjelina, Cooking from Venice, California, by Travis Lett, further adapted by Dawnie to create this version:

Ingredients
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound Brussels sprouts, halved lengthwise
Kosher salt, to taste
White pepper, to taste
¼ cup pitted dates
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Handful of cashew pieces at the end to finish

Method
Heat a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium-high heat and add the butter.  Add the Brussels sprouts to the pan cut-side down and cover without stirring about 5 to 7 minutes. The idea is to get a light sear, keep them relatively green inside and soft. Reduce the heat back to medium, flip the sprouts, and season with salt and white pepper to taste.

Add the dates , and toss well. Add the stock to the pan, a little at a time, using a wooden spoon to smash the dates into the stock, breaking them into smaller pieces as the stock reduces into a sauce. (note:  I will experiment next time and puree the dates in a blender with the chicken stock to get a nice velvety sauce-my dates dissolved but there were some slight pieces of the skin left in the sauce).  Once the dates are incorporated, add the lemon juice and cashews.

Continue cooking for 2 or 3 minutes, until the sauce is thick enough to coat the sprouts, but be careful not to reduce it too much or the sauce will become cloyingly sweet and sticky. (If you do over reduce it, add a splash of stock or water to get it back to where you want it.) Finish with a Tablespoon or so of butter. Transfer to a serving platter and serve warm.

Here is the version I  used as a guide. I have not tried it but adapted my recipe from the recipe below…this one has bacon, and does call to char the sprouts.

Charred Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Dates

Adapted from Gjelina, Cooking from Venice, California, by Travis Lett

Ingredients
3 ounces bacon, cut into ¼-inch wide matchsticks
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound Brussels sprouts, halved lengthwise
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ cup pitted dates
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Method
Heat a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium-high heat and add the bacon and olive oil. Cook until the bacon has rendered most of its fat but is still juicy, about 10 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a bowl and increase the heat to high. Add the Brussels sprouts to the pan cut-side down and sear hard, without shaking the pan, until well-charred and beginning to black (see photo above), about 5 to 7 minutes. The idea is to get a deep, penetrating sear that nearly blackens the sprouts, but keeps them relatively green inside. Reduce the heat back to medium, flip the sprouts, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the dates and cooked bacon, and toss well. Add the stock to the pan, a little at a time, using a wooden spoon to smash the dates into the stock, breaking them into smaller pieces as the stock reduces into a sauce. Once the dates are incorporated, add the vinegar.

Continue cooking for 2 or 3 minutes, until the sauce is thick enough to coat the sprouts, but be careful not to reduce it too much or the sauce will become cloyingly sweet and sticky. (If you do over reduce it, add a splash of stock or water to get it back to where you want it.) Transfer to a serving platter and serve warm.

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