I’m always looking for new and interesting ways to cook Brussels sprouts. I really only like them one way, super crispy — almost burnt. Another way I like to eat them is when they are flash-fried, but I don’t have the equipment to flash-fry Brussels sprouts. A vegan restaurant near my house makes them this way. I’ve tried to recreate the recipe at home by blanching the Brussels sprouts and then pan frying them but it didn’t work.
Every time I blanch Brussels sprouts I get it wrong. I overcook them. The only reason I ever blanch Brussels sprouts in the first place is to get the cooking process going fast. What happens when you overcook Brussels sprouts during the blanching process? They end up overcooked in your recipe. No one likes mushy Brussels sprouts that I know of.
So when I found a recipe for smashed Brussels sprouts at Well Plated, I was at once excited because the recipe guaranteed ultimate crispiness and terrified because the recipe calls for you to blanch the sprouts to start off with. I decided to go with the recipe even though I’ve never gotten the knack of blanching Brussels sprouts. I figured I have to get lucky or grow more skilled at some point.
I’m sure this happens to you every time you buy Brussels sprouts–you end up with a bag of Brussels sprouts of varying sizes. My sprouts were mostly about the same size with one or two ginormous sprouts and one or two teeny-tiny sprouts. I decided to add the large sprouts to the water first, the medium-sized sprouts a minute or so later and the teeny-tiny ones a minute or so after that. Keeping in mind that every time I blanch Brussels sprouts I overcook them I made sure to pull them out of the water earlier than what was recommended only I didn’t see the cook time in the recipe and underestimated how long it takes to cook Brussels sprouts. I took them out when they were fork tender, but not falling off the fork, figuring that would be good enough. I was wrong.
My next mistake was tossing the Brussels sprouts in oil at this point which made them slippery little suckers. So when I went to smash the sprouts using the bottom of a glass they slipped out from beneath my glass. I had to improvise by using a plate, which worked marginally better due to the surface area; however, because the Brussels sprouts weren’t cooked long enough, I had a heck of a time flattening them. It was full body workout At some point I put the pan on the floor to try to get more leverage. I was sweating and I was swearing and I eventually had every last sprout flattened at least slightly.
It turns out the full body Brussels sprout workout was worth it. Between the three of us, Dad, Sis and I polished off the entire two-pound bag of Brussels sprouts. Sis said they were probably the best Brussels sprouts she ever had. Because you flatten them, there is more surface area hitting the pan and you achieve the ultimate crispiness.
I sprinkled ours with parmesan cheese but the standard recipe is vegan and calls only for sprouts, oil and seasoning. You can make this recipe over and over again experimenting with different flavors, like Sriracha lime or bacon and cheddar.
- 2 lbs whole Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed
- 2 T. safflower or avocado oil
- 2 ½ tsp. kosher salt, divided
- ¼ tsp. ground pepper
- 3 T. finely grated Parmesan (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Fill a saucepan large enough to comfortably hold the brussels sprouts with water and bring to a boil. Add 2 teaspoons of salt to the water. While the water comes to a boil, prepare an ice bath.
- Add Brussels sprouts to the boiling salted water. Cook until the sprouts are fork tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the Brussels sprouts, then plunge immediately into the ice bath. Cool until Brussels sprouts are no longer warm, then place the Brussels sprouts on a layer of paper towels and squeeze dry.
- Transfer the Brussels sprouts to a large, rimmed baking sheet. With the base of a drinking glass, coffee mug or plate, gently but firmly press on each sprout to flatten it into a disk that is 1/2-inch or so thick.
- Drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with the remaining salt and black pepper. Toss to coat, then spread out across the pan.
- Bake the Brussels sprouts for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and carefully flip. Return to the oven and bake 10 to 15 more minutes.
- If using, sprinkle cheese over the top, then return the sprouts to the oven and continue baking until they are crisp on the outside and the cheese is golden, about 5 to 10 more minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before digging in.