This is the time of year when seasonal food is on the cusp of transition, blending flavors and ingredients from both winter and spring, even with a hint of summer shining through. Brussels sprouts are a perfect example: peaking during the winter months but stable and hearty enough to last in ripeness and relevance well into spring.
Restaurateur and chef Ben Poremba understands this concept well, with his St. Louis restaurants bringing the season to the plate, from the intimate, fine-dining Elaia to the casual, vinyl-record-spinning wine bar Olio. Since many locals are missing the chef’s cooking right about now, Poremba lent a tasty and transitional recipe to our “Tasting Cider” book that we are reinvigorating for you at home today. A basic and bright dish, thinly shaved Brussels sprouts are enhanced with flavor combinations of smoky fish sharp cheese, salty black walnuts and a hard cider vinaigrette featuring a hometown St. Louis brewery.
Naturally pairing with the same cider, Urban Chestnut Brewing Co.’s Bushelhead is easy drinking and approachable, a golden goblet sold at a brewery and made by a brewer to help band the two separate bodies of cider and beer. Reducing the cider burns off a bit of the booze in this recipe but keeps the intense and fermented flavors, adding complexity to the vinaigrette and making a natural partner in pairing.
Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Smoked Trout, Black Walnuts, Pecorino and Hard Cider Vinaigrette
Recipe by Chef Ben Poremba, Elaia, St. Louis, MO
Makes 4–6 servings
½ cup black walnut pieces
4 cups Brussels sprouts, thinly shaved on a mandoline
1 cup chives, thinly sliced
½ cup smoked trout, picked over and flaked
½ cup pecorino, in chunks
¼-½ cup Hard Cider Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C). Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the Brussels sprouts, chives, trout, pecorino and walnuts. Lightly toss with the vinaigrette, and serve.
Hard Cider Vinaigrette
Makes about 1 cup
2 cups Urban Chestnut Brewing Bushelhead cider
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ roasted walnut oil
⅓ cup grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
In a saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the cider until it reduces to ⅓ cup, roughly the consistency of maple syrup. In a bowl, whisk together the cider, vinegar, walnut oil, grapeseed oil and mustard. Store in the refrigerator.
Excerpted from Tasting Cider © 2017 by Sip Publishing. Photography © by Antonis Achilleos. Used with permission from Storey Publishing.