These sweet and sour Brussels sprouts with chestnuts combine rich, earthy, complex flavors with ease of preparation. In other words, everything that we’ve come to expect from recipes by Yotam Ottolenghi.
Easy prep. Hands-off cooking. Bold flavors—we’re talking earthy, heat, salty, and a little sweet—in an unexpected dance with one another. That’s what we’re hearing about this recipe. And that’s exactly what we hear about all Yotam Ottolenghi recipes. Just a few of the reasons why we appreciate his kitchen prowess so darn much.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Sweet and Sour Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts
- 12 small shallots peeled and left whole (or halve or quarter 3 to 6 larger shallots)
- 5 garlic cloves peeled and crushed with the side of a knife
- 1 3/4 cups precooked and peeled chestnuts
- 4 dried bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 9 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine) or pale dry sherry
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- 6 1/3 ounces seedless red grapes (1 to 2 cups)
- 1 3/4 pounds Brussels sprouts trimmed and halved lengthwise (about 7 cups)
- Table salt
- 2 (1 oz) green chile peppers thinly sliced into rounds and, if desired, seeded
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar or more to taste
- 1 teaspoon superfine sugar (or blitz granulated sugar in a food processor until finely ground but not powdery)
- 3 tablespoons parsley leaves
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (160°C).
- In a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-cm) high-sided roasting pan, combine the shallots, garlic, chestnuts, bay leaves, and maple syrup with 7 tablespoons olive oil, 5 tablespoons Shaoxing wine or dry sherry, and 2 tablespoons soy sauce.
- Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake until the shallots are soft but not mushy and still hold their shape, 25 to 35 minutes.
- Stir in the grapes, cover again with foil, and bake for 10 minutes more. Remove the pan from the oven and carefully remove the foil. (You can let the mixture cool, cover, and refrigerate it for up to a day prior to proceeding with the recipe. Easier for entertaining and more melded flavors.)
☞TESTER TIP: Be very careful of the steam when lifting the foil off the roasting pan! Stand back and use an oven mitt or towel to remove the foil.
- Increase the oven temperature to 450°F (220°C). Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- On the prepared baking sheet, toss the Brussels sprouts with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt, then spread them in a single layer.
- Roast until the sprouts are browned, 16 to 20 minutes. Add the grapes and chestnuts to the baking sheet, gently mix everything together, and let rest, uncovered, at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and preferably up to 1 hour to let the flavors develop.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the chiles with the rice vinegar, sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt and let them pickle for 30 minutes.
- Once the Brussels sprouts have rested, stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine or dry sherry and 2 tablespoons soy sauce. Stir in the parsley and transfer to a large, shallow serving bowl. Top with the pickled chiles and the pickling liquid. Taste and, if desired, add more vinegar. Serve immediately.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Just as beautiful Brussels sprouts are becoming plentiful (a bonus to living within an hour of the biggest sprout-growing region), this recipe is a great addition to my arsenal. The chestnuts are a sweet note and the grapes’ sweetness is balanced with fruity brightness. I am frequently accused of being a sprout evangelista, but I particularly like this vegan-friendly version which can be made ahead of time (a bonus if your oven is busy on holidays).
We are enthusiastic about sprouts and can easily make a meal of them and we still had enough for a second night. All prep, as well as the cooking, can easily be done a day ahead, and the leftovers were as good cold as gently rewarmed. I might slice the chestnuts in half next time, to match the size of halved sprouts and to coat more surface area with the roasting sauce and subsequent dressing.
If your shallots are large, weigh them and cut them lengthwise in half as needed. You can even use some red onion if you can’t find shallots at all (I used a combination to match the weight). I was so excited to find fresh local chestnuts I didn’t realize I was a little scant on the sprouts, but that doesn’t really affect this kind of recipe. I used a large Anaheim chile since I did not have any jalapenos, and that worked perfectly as pickled thin slices.
Because I was a little short on sprouts, they easily fit on a half sheet pan, but if you have the full 800 g you might need 2 sheets so you are not crowding them (I had just over 600 g). I added 1 tablespoon maple syrup.
Without any special hoops or effort, this a great vegan side or even a main dish (great with a gnarly grain or even just rice).The combination of flavours really worked, and counter-intuitive as it may be to serve it barely warm or at room temperature, it really works. In fact, with the leftovers on the second day, I had moved them from the fridge into a small roasting dish so I could slightly warm, to serve alongside the Pork Chop recipe I was testing, and we found ourselves stealing cold sprouts from the dish before it got into the oven.
What I love is that (sprout evangelista hat on) you did not need to add bacon to get the sprout ambivalent to like this. I have had anti-sprouters tell me if you bury them in enough bacon all is well. Hrrmmph. And even if there may not be a large family gathering anytime soon, this is a holiday winner. Probably serves 6-8 as part of a larger meal with other sides.
I used the Joy of Cooking method of steaming the x-cut chestnuts for 5 minutes, then peeling while warm. Had nearly 100% yield and now am looking forward to identifying other ways to use some extra chestnuts.
Originally published December 12, 2020