Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Prosciutto

We have friends who like their Brussels sprouts served very plainly.  One likes them steamed, and then accented only with a splash of white vinegar.  Another likes them with lemon juice.  While I appreciate their purist styles, I like my Brussels sprouts a bit more dressed up.  Cooked with more fat.  Cooked with more flavor…

Luckily for us, similarly dressed up Brussels sprouts are ubiquitous at countless Chicago area restaurants.  We enjoy them fried crisp with a basil dipping sauce like the way Prairie Grass Café serves them.  At Big Jones, they are julienned and then caramelized with onions and pecans.  At home, we often stir fry them lightly in butter with shallots and just a touch of sugar—and topped with toasted nuts (whatever we have around).  Or, a warm Brussels sprouts slaw made with cream and parmesan and a touch of garlic is another favorite way we like to prepare our sprouts.

This past weekend, we opted for the other method we like to employ: slow roasting.  This is a simple recipe only slightly modified from the way Ruth Reichl suggested in Garlic and Sapphires.  

Since we had just been to our local Farmer’s Market that morning, we were able to get the freshest possible produce.  If you have that opportunity, from your local grocery store or farmer’s market, get a fresh whole Brussels sprouts stalk and remove individual sprouts from the stalk.  

Trim to remove dirty or damaged outside leaves, and then cut in half the larger sprouts and leave whole the smaller ones.  Larger sprouts to be cut in half are on the left side of the picture above, the smaller sprouts to be left whole on the right side.  (Or, as Ruth Reichl suggests, use about 1-1 ½ pounds of Brussels sprouts.)

Place the cut and whole sprouts into a casserole pan or a jelly roll pan (half sheet pan with about 1 inch sides) and drizzle with 2-3 tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil and then stir to coat sprouts.  Then salt and pepper before placing into a 400 degree preheated oven.

After about 15 minutes, take the pan out and then throw on top 4-6 julienned slices of thin prosciutto.  Place back in the pan and cook another 5 minutes, then stir, and put back into the hot oven for another 5-10 minutes for a total of about 25-30 minutes. 

You can decide how brown and caramelized you like your sprouts, but we like them about the way they look in the top picture.   Hard to believe that people used to dread the idea of eating Brussels sprouts!


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