The full title of which is “brown-sugar squash and Brussels sprouts en papillote.” A very long title for a very simple dish.

If I had the same tastes now as I did a couple years ago (or even last year, to be honest), I would have avoided this recipe. I would have pretended it didn’t exist. Until last December, my impression of Brussels sprouts were that they were stinky mini-cabbages that got all mushy and icky when cooked. And they really, really did stink.

I still think they stink when they’re cooking. I don’t like the way my house smells after cooking Brussels sprouts. That’s just a fact.

Fortunately, after my mother discovered the stalks of them at the grocery store and simply had to have one, I learned that – when properly cooked – Brussels sprouts are not as disgusting as I previously believed. In fact, with the right cooking technique, they can be quite tasty. A high school classmate of mine suggested roasting them with balsamic vinegar, and that remains my favorite way of cooking them. But maybe that’s because I love balsamic vinegar.

At any rate, this recipe was nominated, and I wasn’t even disappointed. In fact, I even voted for it. See, people can change.

This is a very simple recipe.

Butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, an apple, brown sugar, and some sage. That's all this recipe asks for! (Plus, salt and pepper, but that's a given.)

Butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, an apple, brown sugar, and some sage. That’s all this recipe asks for! (Plus, salt and pepper, but that’s a given.)

Everything is chopped up and placed on a sheet of foil and tossed with oil and salt & pepper. Brown sugar is sprinkled over, the sage is laid on top, the foil packet is sealed, and into the oven it all goes.

Everything is chopped up and placed on a sheet of foil and tossed with oil and salt & pepper. Brown sugar is sprinkled over, the sage is laid on top, the foil packet is sealed, and into the oven it all goes.

I served the foil packets with miso-glazed salmon, which was wonderfully awesome.

I served the foil packets with miso-glazed salmon, which was wonderfully awesome.

Here's what everything looks like inside the packet. Pretty, hmm?

Here’s what everything looks like inside the packet. Pretty, hmm?

Tasty-looking, right?

First off, I love the colors here. I’m sure it would have looked even better if I’d taken everything out of the foil and plated it nicely next to the fish. But, I’m lazy, the foil was really hot, and I was hungry. I just didn’t feel like pretty-ing things up. Besides, I have to keep up with Geordie, and while I’m busy taking pictures, he’s already shoveling food into his face. It happens every time.

This made for a very nice side dish, and it went quite well with the miso-glazed salmon. We both agreed that the squash & sprouts were good but could use a little of a flavor boost. The brown sugar was just barely hinted at, and a little more would have been nice. And I admit that we indulged in a bit of butter. It just needed some butter. The squash was tender without being mushy, and the sprouts were also a good texture. I had never cooked with butternut squash before, so it was nice to get some practice with it. I like pumpkin better, but the butternut was way easier to work with.

Maybe the miso-glazed salmon stole the show (oh, man, that was so good, and the salmon was cooked perfectly, it just melted in your mouth), but we liked the squash & sprouts. Maybe it didn’t leave a big impression, but we liked it.

Now, the big “controversy” among the Doristas this week was whether or not to roast the squash & sprouts with the foil or without. I’d roasted Brussels sprouts before, and I knew I liked them better that way. They were tender on the inside but had a nice crisp on the outside. Some of the Doristas followed the recipe verbatim (as I did), and others just didn’t bother with the foil. Because I had an excess of both squash and sprouts, I thought I’d do a little comparison roasting.

The exact same recipe, only this time, no foil packet. Just stick ’em in the oven and roast ’em. Because I have my dinner plans carefully planned, I did this batch up for lunch. Fortunately for Geordie, there was some left over for him to have a little with dinner.

Roasted butternut squash and Brussels sprouts, with just a sprinkle of brown sugar.

Roasted butternut squash and Brussels sprouts, with just a sprinkle of brown sugar.

This was much better. I used just a bit more brown sugar and was happy with that. But it still needed butter. Geordie’s right: Brussels sprouts just need butter. Except when they’ve got balsamic vinegar on them, but that’s a different recipe. The oven-roasted method took a little bit longer to cook, but it was definitely worth the wait. The Brussels sprouts got that nice color and carmelization crust, which went a long way to enhancing the texture. The squash was also cooked a little better, without being over-cooked into mush.

Overall, the en papillote part was just unnecessary. Next time, I’ll just throw everything thing on a pan and stick it in the oven. I think it would make for a very nice late fall/early winter dish. Maybe as an accompaniment to an herb-roasted chicken. But it’s definitely something I’d do again.

I guess that means Brussels sprouts are officially in the “like” column. Huh. Never thought that would happen!

To see how the Doristas dealt with this dish, head on over to the French Friday links and take a look at their pretty little veggies!

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