Wednesday, January 04, 2006
I don't understand why Brussels sprouts get such a bad rap. I love 'em.
I came to Brussels sprouts late in life, after I had gone to college. They retain for me an association with asparagus and artichokes - all delicious vegetables, a little exotic and very European, that grow in funny, distinctive ways very different from beans or lettuce. So it was quite a shock to find out that, unlike asparagus and artichokes, most Americans hate Brussels sprouts.
I can't imagine why, unless there's some sort of unspeakable frozen or canned Brussels sprout product lurking in other people's childhoods. Properly made, Brussels sprouts are tender, delicate, mild and a bit nutty. I prefer them steamed and then turned in a bit of butter, though you can reverse the fat/liquid exposure and braise them with great success. The picture above shows one of my favorite Brussels sprout dishes. After the sprouts are lightly steamed, I throw them in a pan with a knob of butter and walnuts. I cook them a bit longer, until I can begin to smell the walnuts, then I add a little maple syrup and cook just a bit more, to meld the syrup and the butter. Sprinkle with a little salt, and you've got either a very nice side dish or, if you happen to be single and able to get away with such idiosyncratic meals, dinner.