To a lot of folks just the mention of the words Brussels sprouts may bring about memories of being served soggy, mushy, strong tasting little cabbages. Not pleasant memories. Well, you can strike those awful memories from your mind. I’m here to tell you that if you give them another chance you might learn, just as I have, that they can be delicious. There three keys to a successful Brussels sprouts experience. First, buy them fresh; second select sprouts that are small in size; and last don’t over cook them. Brussels sprouts taste best cooked quickly. Here are four ways to enjoy Brussels sprouts.
My favorite way to fix them is to toss about 1 pound trimmed Brussels sprouts that have been cut in half lengthwise into a large Ziplock bag with one onion, that has been quartered, then cut into 1/16’s, about ½ pound Crimini mushrooms, quartered, some olive oil and a little sea salt and cracked black pepper. Toss to mix all the ingredients. Next, I preheat my little BBQ and put my stir-fry basket on the grill. When the grill and the basket are nice and hot I dump in the Brussels sprout mix and close the BBQ lid. I check back every 5 min or so and toss the mixture so it can cook evenly. It’s done when the mixture is browned and the sprouts are crisp tender. Another nice addition to this mix is to toss in some chopped crisp cooked bacon just before serving. You can also roast this mixture in a 450° F oven for about 45 minutes. For me, this recipe seems to come out much better when I use the BBQ.
They can also be pan browned. Trim ½ pound Brussels sprouts and halve lengthwise. Cut 2 large garlic cloves into very thin slices. In a heavy 10-inch skillet melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil over moderate heat and cook garlic, stirring, until pale golden. Transfer garlic with a slotted spoon to a small bowl. Reduce heat to low and arrange sprouts in skillet, cut sides down, in one layer. Sprinkle sprouts with 2 tablespoons pine nuts and salt to taste. Cook sprouts with turning, until crisp-tender and undersides are golden brown. About 15 minutes. Transfer sprouts to a plate, browned sides up. Add garlic and ½ tablespoon butter to skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring until pine nuts are more evenly pale golden brown, about 1 minute. Spoon mixtures over sprouts and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.
They are also delicious in what I call a stir-fry style. First separate the sprouts into just the leaves and set aside. Next, in a little olive oil, saute some diced onion and pancetta or bacon until softened. Add the sprout leaves and stir-fry until just tender.
For the simplist version try this; Steam 2 lbs of trimmed Brussels sprouts until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Toss with butter and salt and pepper to taste. For this version use the very tiniest sprouts, less than three quarters of an inch in diameter. It the sprouts are larger cut them in half.
The season will be ending soon. At some markets you can buy the entire dramatic-looking stalk and pluck the sprouts off when you get home. Look for stalks that have small sprouts; they will be sweeter than the larger ones. Choose those that feel firm and heavy. Avoid any that have any wilting or yellowing leaves, or that do nor form a tight head. If you haven’t tried Brussels sprouts in a while why not give them another chance? You just might find out how really delicious they can be.