Friday, February 27, 2015

'TIS THE SEASON: FRESH BRUSSELS SPROUTS

How many of you think you hate Brussels sprouts? Well, I'd be willing to bet that, like me, you've only ever had them boiled into a reeking ball of slime, or having sat for hours on some cafeteria's steam-table.  I don't blame you for being hesitant to try them again, but you simply must. First, however, you have to get your hands on some really fresh ones, which usually come like this.


According to my favorite cookbook, Serving Up The Harvest by Andrea Chesman, the sprouts grow on thick stalks that reach 2 to 3 feet tall, and they ripen from the bottom up. If you dislike strong flavors, try cooking some that are less than an inch in diameter. I'd always heard you had to cut an x into the bottom of each whole sprout to ensure even cooking, but Chesman says that really isn't necessary. It is, however, a good idea to cook sprouts of the same size, so if your sprouts vary in size, cut the larger ones into halves or quarters, to even things out. They will keep several weeks in a cool place, but their flavor is best when they are freshly harvested. Store, unwashed, in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator.

There are lots of ways you can cook them, and lots of things you can add, such as bacon and mustard and cream, but I think most of those recipes were developed in order to hide the flavor of overly ripe or frozen versions. If you can get them fresh from a local grower, nothing can beat a simple roasting. Chesman recommends roasting for about 15 minutes at 425, but I've always found, with my oven, 400 F. is plenty hot.

For four servings, start by popping or cutting about 6 cups (1 to 1 1/2 lbs.) of them off the stalk, then trim off any loose or discolored outer leaves. Wash and pat dry, then cut the larger ones in half. Lightly grease a baking pan with oil, then toss the Brussels sprouts in a large bowl with a tablespoon or two of extra-virgin olive oil to coat. You can also add in a bit of fresh lemon juice or a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, some coarse sea salt or some freshly ground pepper at this stage, or you can wait and sprinkle any of these on after cooking. Arrange in a single, uncrowded layer in pan, pop into a preheated oven, and roast until lightly brown and easily pierced with a fork, shaking the pan occasionally for even cooking.

Trust me, if you haven't had them prepared like this...


then you haven't really had Brussels sprouts.

3 comments:

Donna Lange said...

Love fresh vegetables and roasting them is always my favorite way of eating them. I actually haven't tried that w brussel sprouts but you have inspired me to try it! Thanks!

Corrine at sparkledaysstudio.com said...

Just the best that way. Try them just shredded in the "famous" kale salad too. xox

Hill Country Hippie said...

I agree with you both. I think just about any veg tastes better when it's been roasted until it gets those crispy, caramelized bits on it!