Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Breakfast at Tamale House East with Mark Bittman

Addie Broyles
abroyles@statesman.com

When Mark Bittman was headed to Austin for that Food & Health conference earlier this month, I invited him to breakfast for an interview about his new book, “How to Cook Everything Fast.”

(You can read the resulting story in today’s food section or through this link.)

I presumed that the author of “VB6” (that’s “vegan before 6,” to the uninitiated) would want to go somewhere with lots of vegan options for our meeting, so I suggested Casa de Luz, Mother’s Cafe, Counter Culture and even Capital City Bakery to showcase what Austin’s vegan community had to offer.

“It doesn’t have to be vegan,” he wrote back.

I would find out over a plate of cheesy migas at Tamale House East that Bittman’s famously middle-of-the-road approach to eating and cooking extends to his own life, meaning that, like so many of us, after weeks of sticking to a super healthful diet at home, he’s willing to break the “rules,” especially when he’s traveling, and eat whatever he likes.

During our chat at the restaurant, Bittman explained why being an op-ed columnist is “the hardest, most challenging, most rewarding thing I’ve ever done” and why he simply doesn’t buy into the argument that people do not have time to cook. We talked about why the formatting and design in “How to Cook Everything Fast” might just revolutionize how we food writers think about writing recipes and how the smallest changes to what you buy and eat can lead to big changes in your personal health and the state of public health in America.

Bittman’s new cookbook, like the original incarnation, which is the book I most often recommend people buy for wedding/birthday/holiday/graduation gifts, breaks lots of modern publishing rules, foremost that it doesn’t have even a single photo of food, but with 2,000 recipes and variations, like this Brussels sprouts with chorizo, it’s a book that could keep you busy (and eating well) for a lifetime.

Brussels Sprouts with Chorizo

Bacon, chorizo or sausage are the three variations that Bittman suggests for this recipe, but after I posted a photo of this dish made with chorizo last week, several readers chimed in that they love cooking sprouts with Soyrizo, a vegan meat substitute. Adding a little water lets you cook Brussels sprouts whole and keeps them vibrant green, but I’ve found that I prefer them halved, which increases the surface area and improves the texture. You won’t have to cook them as long, though.

2 Tbsp. olive oil

4 oz. fresh Mexican chorizo (or hot or sweet Italian sausage or 6 slices bacon)

1 1/2 lb. Brussels sprouts

Salt and pepper

Put 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chorizo (or, if using bacon or sausage, chop the meat and then add to the pan). Meanwhile, trim the Brussels sprouts, cutting the largest ones in half.

Cook the meat, stirring occasionally, until it releases some fat, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the Brussels sprouts to the partially cooked meat, along with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and 1/2 cup water.

Cover and cook, checking once or twice and adding small amounts of water as needed, until the Brussels sprouts are a little shy of tender, 6 to 10 minutes, depending on their size.

Remove the cover and raise the heat to high. Cook, resisting the urge to stir too much, until the liquid evaporates and the Brussels sprouts become brown and crisp in places. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve hot or warm. Serves 4.

— Adapted from “How to Cook Everything Fast: A Better Way to Cook Great Food” by Mark Bittman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35)