One thing that really surprised me about Jacksonville when we moved here three years ago, was how diverse and impressive the culinary scene is. When I was the Bite Club host, I was able to try some really unique and absolutely delicious restaurants. When I meet new people and they know I cook and love to try new restaurants, I'm constantly getting great recommendations. The only downside is these places are usually in Riverside or at the beach, and nothing close to where I live.
There's a small strip of restaurants in a movie theater near my house, and about a year and a half ago, Speckled Hen moved into one of the locations. After driving past it one day, I went home and googled the menu, and knew it would be a great place for us to try. It's called a Southern Gastropub, the have great beer on tap, the menu changes seasonally, and the best part is it's next to the movies (perfect for date night!) and it's a few miles from our house.
Back in October, I took my parents there, and saw their Fried Brussels Sprouts with Habanero Aioli on the appetizer menu. Sold! The sprouts were tender with a little crunch, dusted in parmesan cheese, drizzled with thick, syrupy balsamic vinegar and spicy habanero aioli. The Brussels sprouts were so good and so unforgettable that when my grandparents came down last weekend, I requested that we go there for dinner so I could get them again.
When I got a stalk of Brussels sprouts in the CSA basket last week, I knew I had to make the appetizer at home. I didn't want to fry the sprouts, so I roasted them instead. They were not quite the same, but still tender and delicious. The balsamic I used was from The Olive Leaf, I reduced it a bit to make it more of a thick syrup, and I used Greek yogurt to make the aioli, lightening it up a bit. If you're in Jacksonville, check out the Speckled Hen (the Hummingbird Cake is phenomenal for desert!)
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Habanero Aioli
inspired by Speckled Hen
1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed, large ones halved
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 c. parmesan cheese
1/2 c. aged balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. plain Greek yogurt
1 habanero, halved, seeds and ribs removed
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tbsp. parsley
1 garlic clove
Preheat oven to 450*
Toss Brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt and pepper on a rimmed baking sheet.
Roast for 20 minutes, flip and roast for another 5-10 minutes, until browned.
Meanwhile, reduce balsamic vinegar over medium heat in a small stock pot until it's a thick syrup.
Add yogurt, habanero, lemon juice, lemon zest, parsley, garlic and a pinch of salt to a blender, blend on high speed until all ingredients are pureed.
Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Remove sprouts from the oven, arrange on a serving plate.
Top with parmesan, drizzle with balsamic and aioli, serve.