The Chef’s Garden in Huron, Ohio is a renowned source of truly world-class produce catering to some of the most well-known restaurants across North America. The sprawling 300-acre farm is run by a family of passionate farmers who produce some of the finest fruits, vegetables, and herbs to be found anywhere in the world. Owned and operated by the Jones family, the Chef’s Garden opened in 1981 and has been growing microgreens, edible flowers, and heirloom vegetables ever since.
I’ve been following Farmer Lee Jones’ adventures via social media for several years now, he has appeared at such prestigious events as the Bocuse d’Or, and is a James Beard award winner, so when he contacted me to ask if I would be interested in trying out some of his produce, I jumped at the chance!
When the box arrived, I was immediately impressed by the intense aromas and freshness of the contents, especially the delicate earthy pungency of the super hard-to-find garlic root. The fact that the Chef’s Garden has supplied culinary royalty such as chefs like Thomas Keller, Grant Achatz, Charlie Trotter, and Julia Child had me feeling inspired and I immediately set to work photographing and sampling the vegetable box they offer for home cooks.
Each vegetable was individually packed with care, and the box contained a surprising quantity of produce. When I laid eyes on the mixed baby Brussels and garlic root, I knew immediately what I would cook first. I can admit to being an especially late convert to Brussels sprouts, having had them for the first time while living in Germany. My husband Jason grew up eating them boiled or steamed, but I knew I could bring more flavor out of them with a careful pan searing. They have since become a favorite of ours in the colder months, their rich nutty flavor and crunchy texture lend itself to a range of accompaniments from sliced almonds to raisins, cranberries, and balsamic vinegar, but this time I have a different plan for them.
Garlic roots have an intense garlicky aroma but a lovely, delicate flavor with much more subtlety than raw garlic making it a perfect accompaniment for the complex but mellow green flavors of fresh Brussels sprouts. To amp-up the crunch factor I sear them in a hot pan with a little butter and add toasted bread crumbs. To enhance the rich savory earthy flavors I chose grated Parmesan cheese to create this quick, simple and delicious side dish that is the perfect addition to any holiday menu!
Crispy Brussel Sprouts with Garlic Roots and Panko
1 1/2 lbs fresh brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoon olive oil
Small handful of garlic roots (use more or less to your liking)
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup Parmesan Reggiano cheese
Salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste.
To prepare the sprouts, trim the base of each with a small paring knife, being careful not to trim too much or the leaves will fall off. Discard bruised leaves then halve lengthwise.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat; I like to use a copper pan because it heats quickly and responds instantly to temperature changes. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a pan and combine with olive oil until it shimmers, add Panko and stir constantly to toast being careful to avoid burning, then remove to a small bowl. Melt the rest of the butter and olive oil in the pan and sear the sprouts cut side down for 2-3 minutes and check for caramelization before turning. A little charring here is nothing to fear, it adds another dimension to the rich flavor. After tossing sprouts add garlic root and cook for an additional minute or so to release their flavor. Toss with panko and Parmesan and top with freshly ground black pepper just before serving.