This is the story of how I learned to love brussel sprouts. A little background: I was not made to “eat my brussel sprouts” while growing up. And I was grateful. Then a few years ago, we were invited to dinner (by those who shall forever remain anonymous) and brussel sprouts were served. I had never eaten anything more disgusting in my entire life. WHY ON EARTH anyone would serve such vile food to guests?
But it’s like there’s been a brussel sprout “movement” in the last couple of years. I saw them on menus in swank restaurants, they are featured in recipes, and I became perplexed. If they were so awful, then why was everyone eating them? Maybe I had just never tried good ones.
We were at NOPA recently, and got to sample the roasted brussel sprouts with frisée, bacon, and an egg on top (thanks to James and Taylor for sharing). It was delicious! So delicious, in fact, that I would actually order them again — “. . . and I would eat them in a boat! And I would eat them with a goat. . .and I will eat them in the rain. And in the dark. And on a train. And in a car. And in a tree. They are so good, so good you see!” (Sorry. . . having a Dr. Seuss moment.)
So, this week, our generous friends left a sack of produce from their Grant Family Farms crop-share on my front step with a beautiful stalk of brussel sprouts, waiting to be loved. This is when it all came together: I had the brussel sprouts, I had the bacon (an impulse buy), I always have arugula, and I had been saving a very special duck egg for just this sort of occasion.
We had found the lone egg, lying in the hay and mud during our time at Wishing Star Farm. Still warm. We dutifully brought it to the owners and seeing our enthusiasm at finding such a treasure, they told us it was a gift.
So, it was this fresh duck egg, I decided, that would top off the salad. But it needed to be poached. My dilemma: I had never poached an egg before, though it’s always been on my “to do” list.
So, I studied Deb’s tutorial at Smitten Kitchen, read all 200+ comments to glean whatever I could from everyone else, and set off to learn how to poach a chicken egg properly before poaching my one and only duck egg. Disaster. “Ewww!” is the sound that came out of my mouth as I watched the whites fly in all directions and the yolk swim off to cook by itself. But my brussel sprouts were already roasting, my bacon was frying, and I had other things to do, so I kept at it.
Four pots/pans, 9 eggs, and a completely different technique later, I was confidently poaching eggs to my liking.
I slipped the duck egg into the water, and in a few short minutes, adorned the salad with a nicely poached duck egg (and a chicken egg too). It was . . . so good. I’ll be making this again soon.
Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Poached Duck Egg
inspired by NOPA — San Francisco, recipe by Stephanie Kunstle
Note: Serves 2. Can be served hot, or room temp — either way is delicious.
- one stalk brussel sprouts
- 4-5 strips of thick-cut bacon (I used applewood smoked)
- 2 giant handfuls of arugula
- 2 fresh eggs (does not have to be duck, of course)
- 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. good balsamic vinegar
- regular olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Trim brussel sprouts from stalk, rinse and remove any weird or wilted leaves. Cut larger ones in half, and leave the small ones whole. Put them in a baking pan or Pyrex (9 x 9 inch), and drizzle the regular olive oil over them. Sprinkle sea salt and cracked pepper, and use your hands to move them all around to make sure they are well coated. Bake for 20 minutes. Switch oven setting to broil, and move baking rack to be 6 inches from heat. Broil brussel sprouts for 45 seconds to a minute to put a little color on them and give them a more caramelized flavor. Remove from oven and set aside.
- Fry bacon slices over medium heat, turning to keep them from becoming crispy (you want to be able to cut them without shattering the bacon). Once cooked, cut into 1-inch strips.
- Combine extra virgin olive oil and balsamic in a small bowl or measuring glass with several cracks of salt and pepper. Use a wire whisk to combine and thicken into a nice vinegrette.
- Heat about 2-3 inches of water in a large skillet to the point of nearly simmering. The water should be very hot, but cannot be simmering or boiling. Add about 1/2 tsp. sea salt to the water. Crack your egg into a 1/3 cup dry measuring cup, and gently lower it into the water. Once submerged, gently tip the measuring cup to release the egg. Let the egg cook for a few seconds, and then use a spoon to gently push the egg white toward the center of the yolk a few times to encourage the egg white to cook over the yolk. Time for 3-4 minutes, to cook the egg to your liking. Remove with a slotted spoon. Repeat for next egg.
- In a large bowl, combine the brussel sprouts, bacon strips, arugula and vinegrette and toss to combine well. Top with the poached eggs, toss and break eggs into salad, and serve.