Editor’s Note: Evan Hanczor is the chef at Williamsburg’s Egg restaurant, a spot renowned for its Southern-inspired fare and its use of truly farm-fresh ingredients. The restaurant owns Goatfell Farm, a small farm in the Hudson Valley, which supplies almost all of its produce. For the potluck, Chef Evan shares his recipe for Brussels Sprouts with Country Ham and Apples.
By Evan Hanczor, Chef at Egg
I didn’t grow up eating Brussels sprouts — I think my dad had a foul memory of them from childhood, so I wasn’t really exposed to them until I worked at The Dressing Room in Westport, CT. There we cooked brussels sprouts with dried cranberries, and the combination of the salty brussels sprouts and the sweet cranberries was a revelation to me. I’ve made them at home every Thanksgiving since.
We always have a big crowd at Thanksgiving, and the time spent with my brothers and sister standing around the counter cleaning brussels sprouts before anyone else has shown up has become a special part of our tradition.
Roasted brussels sprouts with apples and country ham
- 1lb brussels sprouts (this time of year, you can find them at pretty much any Greenmarket in NYC)
- 1-2 small Mutsu apples (or Bosc pears, if you prefer)
- 2 tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil
- 1 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 lb thinly sliced country ham (Newsom’s or Benton’s are great choices)
- apple cider vinegar or lemon
- Trim the brussels sprouts by cutting off about 1/8 of the sprout at the stem end. Then, stand the sprout cut-side down on the table, and cut in half vertically. The outer layers should fall off, but if they don’t just brush them with your finger to remove the outer layer or two. You may need to cook the sprouts in batches, depending on the size of your pan.*
- Heat a thin film of oil (use as much as you need, depending on your pan) until shimmering, then add the brussels sprouts in an even layer without crowding. Using tongs or a spoon, flip all the sprouts so the exposed cut side is against the pan.
- Cook over medium-high heat, making sure to always have a bit of oil in the bottom of the pan to help brown the brussels evenly.
- While they are browning, cut off the four sides of the apples, arrange them cut-side down on the cutting board, and slice thinly.
- After 3-4 minutes the cut sides of the brussels should be browned. Toss the pan, add the butter, and reduce the heat to medium.
- If you happen to have the oven on for something else, you can set the pan in the oven for 5 minutes to finish cooking, otherwise keep the pan on the heat and toss every minute to finish cooking.
- Add the country ham slices, roughly torn into pieces.
- Taste, and add salt as needed.
- Remove the brussels and ham from the heat and taste with a piece of the sliced apple — add a little acid (vinegar or lemon) if you like. You may not need any though — if you’re using the less acidic pears it might be a nice touch.
- Tip the brussels and ham out of the pan and into your serving bowl, and scatter across the top as many apple slices as you’d like.
You could easily substitute some crisped bacon for the ham, or a European cured meat like prosciutto, salami, or speck. This would also be great with some toasted and spiced pecans, walnuts, or chestnuts mixed in — they could even substitute for the meat in a vegetarian version of this. If you have herbs around, feel free to add a little thyme as well.
*You could also cook the brussels on a baking sheet in a very hot (450) oven — in this case, toss them lightly in a tablespoon of oil (or more if needed) and spread them on a baking sheet you’ve preheated in the oven. Cook about 8 minutes, until the cut halves are nicely browned and there is just a touch of crunch remaining near the center. Add the ham in the last minute of cooking and serve as before.
Egg is located at 135 North 5th Street, between Bedford and Berry, in Williamsburg.
For the story behind Egg, check out our interview with the restaurant’s owner and founding chef, George Weld: Full Circle: Between an ‘Egg’ and a Farm, George Weld Finds a Homecoming