Christopher Kimball's Milk Street : Brussels Sprouts with Garlic, Anchovy, and Chile

Matthew Card, Food Editor of Milk Street Kitchen, thinks Thanksgiving vegetables are every bit as important as turkey and stuffing. He stopped by to share his delicious recipe for Brussels Sprouts with Garlic, Anchovy, and Chile -- the perfect side dish to jazz up the Thanksgiving table!

Charred Brussels Sprouts with Garlic, Anchovy and Chili

Start to finish: 25 minutes

Servings: 4

Using a cast-iron skillet — instead of oven-roasting — made our Brussels sprouts shine with a sweet-savory balance. Because cast-iron holds heat extremely well, we were able to quickly reach the temperature we needed to inactivate myrosinase, the enzyme responsible for bitter-tasting compounds and achieve a delicious char. Before putting the sprouts in the pan, we tossed them in oil with a touch of honey for deeper color and flavor thanks to the glucose and fructose in the honey, which caramelizes faster than sugar, mostly sucrose. Honey also helped keep the sprouts moist because of its hygroscopic (water-retaining) nature. For a dressing we chose bagna càuda – the warm garlic- and anchovy-infused dip from Northern Italy. We added more honey to the dressing for complexity and to lock in moisture at the finish, making the sprouts more tender. A well-seasoned cast-iron pan was key to this recipe. Stainless steel didn’t hold the heat well enough to properly char. To comfortably accommodate the recipe, the pan needed to be at least 12 inches. Stick to small or medium sprouts, large ones didn’t taste as good, containing a higher concentration of the compounds that lead to bitterness. And even smaller sprouts were best when cut in half, creating more surface area and contact with the skillet and therefore more charring.

Don’t omit the anchovies. You may not like them on their own, but as they cook they fade into a rich, salty background flavor.

  • 1 pound small to medium Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons honey
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 anchovy fillets, minced
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

In a large bowl, toss the sprouts with 1 tablespoon of oil, 2 teaspoons of honey and ½ teaspoon of salt. Set aside.

In a 12- to 14-inch cast-iron skillet, combine the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil, the garlic, anchovies and ¼ teaspoon of pepper flakes. Set over high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic begins to color, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape the mixture, including the liquid, into a bowl and set aside.

Return the skillet to high heat. Add the sprouts (reserve the bowl) and use tongs to arrange them cut-side down in a single layer. Cook, without moving, until deeply browned and blackened in spots, 3 to 7 minutes, depending on your skillet. Use the tongs to flip the sprouts cut-side up and cook until charred and just tender, another 3 to 5 minutes.

As they finish, return the sprouts to the bowl and toss with the garlic mixture, the remaining 2 teaspoons of honey and the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper flakes.

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