Fried Brussels Sprouts, Brown Sugar Butter-Pecan

Fried Brussels Sprouts, Brown Sugar, Butter Pecan.  That was the description we came up with months before opening Palo Alto Grill.  When it came to cooking the dish for the first time, we started a reduction of apple juice and maple and from the very first time we tried it drizzled over the crispy sprouts, it was perfect.  One almost never gets a dish perfect the first time, but this dish was the exception to the rule.  Then we re-read the description and realized it was supposed to have been with brown sugar!  We didn't even have any in the pantry at the restaurant, and I have no idea where I ever thought I would be putting butter in the dish.  So we kept it the way it is, and didn't change the description.  Sounds good, tastes good...if it ain't broke- don't fix it.

A few people have contacted me asking to see a recipe for this dish in my blog.  I would never have normally thought to try and blog this dish, as it is fairly restaurant-y and hard to recreate at home.  It is also somewhat decadent.  Often, for some people, preparation of decadent dishes is better "behind the scenes" to minimize guilt.  You've been warned, folks.  Here goes:

Look, something healthy, an Apple!  See?  How bad can a recipe be that begins with apples.  We juice our own apples at Palo Alto Grill, but if its easier for you, you can just buy apple juice.

The amount of apples you juice is up to you.

We make large batches of syrup, but for home cooking, you may just want to juice 3-4 apples, or start with 1 cup of Apple Juice.

We weigh the Apple Juice and then add the exact weight in Maple Syrup also.  If you'd like to just match volumes, that's fine: a cup for a cup.

We start the juice and maple on the stove.  If you make your own, it may be a bit frothy, that's ok.  It will cook off.  Simmer your syrup until it's reduced by at least half.

When its reduced by half, it should look like this ---->

We like to take the guesswork out of cooking as much as possible, so we check to make sure it is reduced to a specific level of sweetness every time.  We use a tool for this called a refractometer.

This is a refractometer.  It looks a lot like a lightsaber.  What it does is direct light across a prism and onto a readout that one can see by looking into the lens.  This shows how concentrated a sugar syrup is.

Inside, we see a display like this ->

The reduced syrup is dripped onto the prism.

Here, Chef de Partie, Matt checks to see the concentration of maple and apple sugars.  We aim for 60-65 Brix or 60-65% sugar.

If you don't have a refractometer, don't worry.  Just reduce your syrup a little over half and check the thickness at room temperature.  It should be a little thicker than maple syrup, but not as thick as honey.

To prepare the Brussels Sprouts, they need to be cored and quartered thusly:

The last item of prep for this dish is fried pecans (or baked pecans, if that's more convenient for you)

Just hold the pecans in a strainer over hot oil until they start to turn golden.  This is much quicker and more consistent than baking.

Drain the excess oil on a paper towel.

The last thing you will need to finish this dish is a really nice, good quality sea salt or fleur de sel.  Regular salt would not work, as it may dissolve, and instead of crispy salty accents, you would just have salinity.  Not as nice.

Ok, here goes nothin...

Take your brussels quarters and place them in a fryer basket.  Drop it into 375 degree oil and stand back!  These puppies are poppers.  Fry for about 45 seconds to 1 minute or until they are mostly browned, with very little green left.

Here's what you should have when you're done. Make sure to shake the basket carefully and remove all excess oil.

We made a little video of the process so you could see what it looks like.  The splatter as the brussels first hit the hot oil is very apparent.

Drizzle the brussels with the apple/maple reduction.

Sprinkle in the toasted pecans and stir.

Rain the perfect amount of salt over the brussels.

Pour into mini cauldrons or other serving vessels.

Top with a bit more toasted Pecans


Here's another little video showing the process of finishing the pecans

This happy little accident has done quite well for us.  It is the #1 selling dish at Palo Alto Grill and since our opening in April, we've almost sold 1,000.  They are not to be missed.

Cool beans.

Ryan Shelton