Restaurant Recipe: Boca Brussels Sprouts

April 8, 2010

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If you’re into food or if you’ve been to Boca and you have a pulse, you have been forever changed by David Falk’s signature dish. It is, to the casual observer, just a day boat scallop, Brussels sprouts and brown butter vinaigrette.

But the Brussels sprouts are caramelized in a “3 hour” process that transforms them from bitter, cabbage-like creatures into unbelievably sweet flavor explosions. To anyone who has plunged a forkful into their mouth, to anyone who has experienced the surprising gush of flavor, this post is for you.

At a recent dinner party, fate placed me near a lovely guy — a professional chef who once cooked at the legendary Boca. Apparently, Falk’s recipe for the sprouts came from Spiaggia in Chicago and the secret ingredient is butter. This guy not only used to make the sprouts, he was willing to share the recipe with me. And now friends, I will share it with you. Just remember, with great power comes great responsibility.

[print_this]

Brussels Sprouts from Boca Restaurant

(as written and detailed by a former Boca chef)

Trim brussel sprouts (remove bottom core section and cut in half).

Bring a salted pot of water to a rolling boil and blanch the sprouts, making sure not to overcrowd the pot. They should still retain some bite when you take them out. Drain the sprouts and place them on a sheet tray and cool. Picked them over, removing any loose leaves.

Brown butter in a large saute pan. Pan should be extremely hot and a considerable amount of butter should be added — about 30% of weight of the sprouts. Butter should sizzle, then foam, and at the point when the foam has disappeared, the sprouts should be added and tossed in order until covered with the butter. Be careful not to overcrowd the skillet — there should be enough room for the sprouts to make contact with the surface of the pan without being piled on top of each other. Turn flame down to about the lowest flame possible 2-3 on a scale of 10.

Walk away and forget about them for about thirty minutes, return and toss periodically. The idea here is to give the sprouts sufficient enough time to be in contact with the skillet in order to properly brown. If the pan appears to be too dry, extra brown butter can be added.

After approximately 2-3 hours the sprouts should be mostly caramelized. Place them on a towel lined tray to absorb excess butter. Season to taste with kosher salt.

“Enjoy,” my dinner companion tells me. “Then contact your cardiologist for a cholesterol evaluation.” [/print_this]

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  • { 12 comments… read them below or add one }

    Nathan April 8, 2010 at 7:39 am

    Spiaggia? How bout that. One of the first places we ate our first time in Chicago, since it’s right down the street from the Drake. Great cafe, too.

    Have you tried making these yet?

    Reply

    Courtney April 8, 2010 at 9:13 am

    Actually, it’s one of the first places we tried in Chicago too, a totally great, elaborate experience. I have tried it and while I think it’s going to take a few times to perfect, I can attest to the recipe. It’s a knock out.

    Reply

    Barb April 8, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Mmmm…. I love roasting brussel spouts at home, even my 13 year old loves them. So these sound just divine! And really, isn’t the magic ingredient ALWAYS butter, butter, and more butter?

    Just discovered your blog this week, love it!

    Reply

    Courtney April 9, 2010 at 6:30 am

    I, too, love roasting them. Though to be fair, I love roasting most anything. What other method of cooking conjures so much comfort? Thanks for reading, Barb, I really appreciate it.

    Reply

    Brighton Velo April 12, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Well, I tried this over the weekend and failed. After three hours at simmer in a bucket of butter these were just burnt cinders. It seems that something is missing in the process!

    Reply

    Courtney April 13, 2010 at 5:25 am

    Sorry to hear that! Couple of thoughts. Number one, the sprouts do come out quite dark and very caramelized. Number two, I’m wondering if maybe you simmered the sprouts too long. The recipe did state to cook for “approximately 2-3 hours,” so perhaps yours were ready to go after 2? I know how frustrating a recipe gone wrong can be but don’t sweat it too much. The Boca cook told me that this one takes practice and acquired intuition. (The above picture was my attempt at the recipe and while I definitely think I can improve the process, they were actually really tasty.)

    Reply

    josh May 3, 2010 at 11:08 am

    I have cooked sprouts like this regularly although never for the amount of time that this recipe suggest. I have also had Boca’s sprouts multiple times and have tried on many occassions to duplicate them. A few things that I would add after many, many attempts at recreating this masterpiece: 1.) it helps to place the cut side down during the carmelization process 2.) a pinch of cane sugar from time to time doesnt hurt 3.) i have substituted Chicken stock instead of water 4.) dont be afraid to add more butter during the cooking process 5.) the water/stock should come to about half the heigth of the sprout 6.)reducing the heat after the initial process is a must do and dont be afraid to really reduce the heat. This is truly the best way to eat sprouts. On a side note, you can do this in the oven at 400 and add plump golden raisins, chorizo sausage, olive oil, balsamic vinegar during the process.

    Reply

    Courtney May 3, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    1.) Awesome tips 2.) I’ll just go ahead and be snobby and say if you’re cooking sprouts for 3 hours, best to use homemade chicken stock 3.) your recipe with chorizo and raisins sounds to die for.

    Reply

    Heidi October 25, 2011 at 9:49 am

    So it’s just butter? That’s it? Can you give the cooking time to boil as well

    Reply

    Michelle December 24, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    Was at Boca last night and had this amazing dish. I can’t wait to try your version. I will have to experiment though to mimick the recipe for the amazing balsamic truffle vinaigrette!

    Reply

    Evan February 20, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    I am looking for the truffle vinaigrette for the amazing brussel sprouts! Does anyone have a recipe they can share? Thank you!

    Reply

    vicki March 26, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Our waitress at Boca told us to put the brussel sprouts and browned butter in the oven at a low temp for the 3 hours. And she said the vinaigrette is 1 part black truffle oil, 1 part basalmic vinegar , and 1 part evoo. David Falk needs to publish a cookbook and include Nada. Everything is over the top delicious. Also it isn’t mentioned that it is served with a seared scallop on top. What is the green herb that they use? I don’t live in Cincinnati, and didn’t think to note that.

    Reply

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