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“Remembering the purple shadows of the lawn, the majesty of the colonnades, and
the dream of your youth, you may say in your reverence and thankfulness:
I have worn the honors of honor. I graduated from Virginia.”
James Hay Jr. Excerpt from The Honor Men.

I could go on and on about UVA and how much I love it, but I’m going to narrow the love fest down for you. I’ll always cherish my education, my time spent on the beautiful grounds, the nights hanging lights in our makeshift theater…but I will carry the friendships I made at UVA with me for the rest of my life.  I have an incredible group of friends who are kind, funny, smart, nerdy, enthusiastic, awesome dancers, lovers of animals and 80′s music (mostly), good at construction projects and who are obsessed with Waffle House hashbrowns.

The downside to having gone to UVA is that almost everyone I know and love from school lives in NoVa (Northern Virginia). That means that every so often I have to go to NoVa to see them. Sigh. UVA is located in the lovely and wonderful “city” of Charlottesville. The trees are green, the birds are singing, there are mountains and trails super nearby…it’s great. Northern Virginia is a land of sprawling cement, traffic and chain restaurants. Even the folks who live there appear to regard NoVa with a certain amount of weary disdain. I’m currently waging the campaign to get all my UVA buds to move to Atlanta. This would be much better.

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In the meantime, I’m stuck with visits to Northern Virginia every so often and I was just up there for my best friend’s graduation this past May. MB (of mini-muffin war fame) was graduating with a second degree in sign language interpretation. As you can imagine, she can give an Italian a run for his money any day of the week when it comes to speaking with one’s hands. As MB was graduating, we naturally threw her a party. I was a little overexcited about decorating and ended up acquiring what might be the best graduation balloon ever: the graduation monkey. Seriously, I was really really excited about the graduation monkey. Like bouncing up and down with glee. Sometimes I just get that way.

The other thing I was excited about was making a graduation cake for MB’s party. Everyone was bringing some food item to the party and I assigned myself the responsibility of cake. Now, cake is not that difficult when I’m in my own kitchen and have all my tools and pans and everything. However, I stay with my friend, Scott, when I make the hike to NoVa. Scott is at the opposite end of the cooking spectrum in that I have used his oven more than he has. You can only imagine the conversations that tend to go along these lines: “Hey Scott, where’s your [fill in the blank]?” This a long stretch of silence while Scott ponders the question, typically followed by “my what?” So you can imagine my concerns about cake baking.

However, the larger concern for Scott that weekend was what he was going to bring to the party. Somehow, someway, it was decided that Scott would bring brussels sprouts to the party. We roasted the sprouts and tossed them in a sweet chili sauce we adapted from a Saveur recipe. And, believe it or not, they were the hit of the party! Even the toddlers went a little crazy for them. Go figure.

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So this all came to mind the other day when I was staring down the contents of my refrigerator, trying to decide what to make for supper. I checked the pantry and, yep, there was a bottle of sweet chili sauce hiding in the corner – it was on. A bowl of sprouts and a chunk of salami later I had Sweet Chili Brussels Sprouts with Salami. My roommate came home to find me hunched over the bowl, fingers and face sticky with sweet chili sauce, muttering “my precious” to the bowl. By now, E has learned to just shrug at my kitchen crazy moments and he hastily beat a retreat to his room with a bottle of chocolate milk, which meant that the remaining sprouty deliciousness was mine! All mine! Mwahahaha!

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs Brussels Sprouts
1 tsp Olive Oil
4 oz Salami
1 Lemon
3 Tbsp Sweet Chili Sauce
1/4 tsp Sesame Oil
Salt & Pepper

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400º F. Clean the sprouts, removing any funky outer leaves and slice the sprouts in half.

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Slice the salami into small chunks and heat in a skillet, rendering out the fat.  Once the salami has started to crisp up, remove the skillet from the heat.

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Toss the sprouts in the skillet, coating them with the rendered fat. If a little extra oil is needed, add the 1 tsp of olive oil. Transfer the sprouts and salami to a baking dish and season them with a twist of lemon juice, a sprinkle of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Roast the sprouts and salami for about 20 minutes – until the sprouts are just barely cooked through.

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While the sprouts are cooking, whisk together the sweet chili sauce, sesame oil and 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice. When the sprouts come out of the oven, toss them in the sauce before returning them to the oven.

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Broil the sprouts for about 5 minutes, taking them out and stirring them several times to (a) prevent burning and (b) spread around the crisping love. Once the sprouts have finished broiling, try to let them sit for a minute before you dig in. The sugar in the sauce is likely very very hot and can burn eager fingers and mouths. Trust me, I speak from experience.

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Sweet Chili Brussels Sprouts with Salami
 
Recipe By:
Ingredients
  • 1½ lbs Brussels Sprouts
  • 1 tsp Olive Oil
  • 4 oz Salami
  • 1 Lemon
  • 3 Tbsp Sweet Chili Sauce
  • ¼ tsp Sesame Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400º F. Clean the sprouts, removing any funky outer leaves and slice the sprouts in half.
  2. Slice the salami into small chunks and heat in a skillet, rendering out the fat. Once the salami has started to crisp up, remove the skillet from the heat.
  3. Toss the sprouts in the skillet, coating them with the rendered fat. If a little extra oil is needed, add the 1 tsp of olive oil. Transfer the sprouts and salami to a baking dish and season them with a twist of lemon juice, a sprinkle of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Roast the sprouts and salami for about 20 minutes - until the sprouts are just barely cooked through.
  4. While the sprouts are cooking, whisk together the sweet chili sauce, sesame oil and 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice. When the sprouts come out of the oven, toss them in the sauce before returning them to the oven.
  5. Broil the sprouts for about 5 minutes, taking them out and stirring them several times to (a) prevent burning and (b) spread around the crisping love. Once the sprouts have finished broiling, try to let them sit for a minute before you dig in. The sugar in the sauce is likely very very hot and can burn eager fingers and mouths.
 

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