Chicken Sausage with Balsamic Mustard Brussels Sprouts and Sunchoke Puree
During the week my go-to meal is some variation of the following equation: Protein + Puree + Vegetable = Dinner. This is especially true in the winter, when a simple roasted vegetable puree can do wonders. In this case I chose salty, funky brussels sprouts to go with sunchoke puree. Chicken sausage was an easy final addition.
Sunchokes (sometimes called Jerusalem artichokes) are extremely easy to cook but taste sophisticated and delicate. Anything with the word artichoke in it is bound to taste sophisticated, I guess. These little guys looks a bit like knobs of ginger. Try to pick sunchokes that are firm, uniform in color, and with fewer knobs to make peeling easier.
1 pound sunchokes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup chicken stock (or water)
Salt and pepper to taste
Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Cut up the sunchokes and add them to the pan with the butter, salt and pepper. Brown them over medium-high heat for about five minutes, then add the stock or water to barely cover. Cover the saucepan and cook at a simmer for about 20 minutes or until the sunchokes are soft but not mushy. Pour the sunchokes and liquid into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
Balsamic Mustard Brussels Sprouts
This is a recipe that add a little bit of tangy funk to the spouts. It's distinctive without being off-putting and hold ups well alongside relatively neutral flavors like that of the chicken sausage.
1 lb brussels sprouts, bottoms trimmed, tought outside leaves removed, and halved
3 tbsp finely chopped shallot
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 strips thick cut bacon, diced
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Brown the bacon in a large skillet with a small bit of olive oil. When the bacon starts to crisp (which should be in about 5-10 minutes), add the brussels sprouts. Toss them well to coat with fat and then let them cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Resist the urge to fuss with the sprouts -- just leave them alone and stir no more than once every few minutes. You want the sides of the sprouts to brown and that will only happen if you keeps your hands and your wooden spoon away from the pan!
When the sprouts have taken on a deeper green color and are showing some deep brown spots, add the shallots. At this point the sprouts should be firm but clearly close to being fully cooked. After a minute or two, add the garlic and stir for another 30 seconds. Finally, turn the heat to high and stir in the balsamic vinegar and mustard to completely coat the sprouts. You'l hear lots of sizzling and should take the pan off the heat when there's still a little bit of liquid left in the pan, allowing for a nice glaze-like sauce. Add water or stock a tiny bit at a time of you don't see any liquid sticking around. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve hot or at room temperature.