What’s for dinner: Apricot-Stuffed Pork with Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts

Click on the photo to go to the recipe on the Everyday Food website.

Brussels sprouts are sort of like Elizabeth Berkley: One bad experience with them (“Showgirls,” anyone?) and they get a bad rap forever.

I hadn’t eaten Brussels sprouts in years — decades, actually — before Funny Michael ordered them at the now-defunct restaurant Sol y Sombra and said, “These are my favorite vegetables.” Really? I was familiar with them only as one of the most hated foods — not just by kids, but also by grownups, which is a whole ’nother level of despised-ness. Sol y Sombra served them roasted with lemon juice and balsamic vinegar, and they were … delicious.

(As it turns out, they also are one of Mr. Brooks’ favorite vegetables, although he mentioned this in the same breath as this: “When you bite down on them, it’s like biting into little tiny bird heads.”)

So I wasn’t worried about this dish at all. Except for the bird heads comment, which made me wonder what sort of lives my roommates have lived.

Cost of ingredients: $16.94. I already had olive oil, salt and pepper.

Substitutions: A boneless pork top loin roast for $6.34 instead of an $11+ tenderloin. And because apricots would already be part of the equation, I decided to bust open the bottle of blood orange olive oil I had picked up from Queen Creek Olive Mill at the downtown Phoenix farmers market for the potatoes and sprouts.

As easy as they said? It’s official: I hate any recipe that suggests putting potatoes on a baking sheet. No good can come of this, because when sliced thinly even the waxiest of potatoes still contains enough starch to fuse to the sheet, which means you’re not tossing them halfway through the cooking cycle, you’re chiseling them off, leaving little seared imprints stuck to the metal.

How’d THAT go over? Kind of raw. Even when the inside of the roast had reached 145 degrees, it was still noticeably pink on the inside, which less of a “mmm, juicy!” development than a “trichinosis!” scare. (Being on the impatient side, I finished off the slices in the microwave.) On the positive side, the blood orange olive oil was a brilliant move — it added an amazing flavor to the vegetables.

Would I make it again? Yes—with significant changes. I would probably cook down the apricot sauce separately and use it as a glaze and topping near the end. I also would take the vegetables out earlier (or start them later), because after 45 minutes the sprouts had collapsed and the potatoes were more like chips.

WHAT SAM WORE: 03-19-10
The sweater: Extra-fine merino wool V-neck vest from Uniqlo, New York.
The shirt: Long-sleeved cotton button-down from H&M, Scottsdale.
The pants: Classic fit, Harper wash jeans by Joe’s Jeans, from Nordstrom.
The shoes: Zip-up suede boots on clearance from Martin + Osa.
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