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Recipe File: Braised Brussels Sprouts
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Cooking For Engineers



Joined: 10 May 2005
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2005 8:18 pm    Post subject: Recipe File: Braised Brussels Sprouts Reply with quote


Article Digest:
Growing up in the United States, the phrase "Eat your Brussels sprouts" was often used in playground banter as an example of how unfair or mean parents can be. Perhaps, I was lucky because I was never forced to eat Brussels sprouts. Avoiding it at all costs (having remembered the horror stories), I never tasted this mini-cabbage until after I left college. Believe it or not, after first tasting them, I thought Brussels sprouts were delicious! What had I been missing out on? Why did everyone complain about these wonderful tasting vegetables and why was it the butt of many jokes in American family sitcoms? I'm not sure, but I think it might have to do with overcooking. Forget the Brussels sprouts of your past and try this fast, simple, and flavorful preparation.


Like many people, I like braising Brussels sprouts in salt water for a couple reasons. First and foremost, it's a very fast cooking method. Using only a small amount water means the waiting time for bringing that water up to a cooking temperature is minimal. The Brussels sprouts cook fairly rapidly without becoming water-logged. Another great thing about this recipe is that it really highlights the natural flavor of the Brussels sprout without the unappetizing smell and taste that cause so many people to avoid this vegetable.

You can buy Brussels sprouts on the stalk or as individual heads. Choose heads that are about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter. At this size, the Brussels sprouts are generally regarded as at their peak tenderness. Also, try to choose uniform sized heads so they will cook at the same rate. The heads should be composed of green leaves that hold together tightly. Try to avoid Brussels sprouts with loose leaves or leaves that are yellow, but don't worry too much since these leaves can be removed before cooking.

For this recipe, I picked up a pound (450 g) of Brussels sprouts, a good amount for two hearty eaters. To scale the recipe, just increase the size of the pan.

If you bought the Brussels sprouts on the stalk, simply cut them off the stalk. When I buy them as individual heads, I like to slice off the very base of the Brussels sprouts because the base has often lost moisture in the store and may be tougher and more fibrous.
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Peel off any loose or yellow leaves.
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Wash the Brussels sprouts thoroughly under running water to remove any dirt or small clinging insects. (Some cookbooks suggest soaking them for 15 minutes in lemon or vinegar water to clean them of potential insects, but I've never tried this.)
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Select a pot or pan that can hold all the Brussels sprouts in one layer. Put just enough water in the pot to create a depth of about 1/4 inch (6 mm). Cover and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Once the water is hot, add about 1/2 teaspoon table salt to the water. If you're scaling the recipe and using a larger pot, be careful how much salt you add. You want to get the water to be quite salty, but not so strong that if you tasted it you'd feel that it is unpalatable. We add the salt after the water is hot because if you add the salt while the water is cold, the salt may not immediately dissolve. Salt crystals sitting in an aqueous environment has been known to cause pitting in stainless steel, so whenever you add salt to water (e.g. when preparing pasta), do so when the water is hot so the salt dissolves rapidly.
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When the water is boiling, add the Brussels sprouts to the pan. Make sure they form only one layer on the bottom and none of the heads are sitting on top of the other heads. Cover and reduce to low heat to maintain a simmer.
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After about seven to eight minutes, the Brussels sprouts should be tender. The base of the head should allow you to sticking a knife in with a little gentle pressure. If you overcook the Brussels sprouts, it will produce an unpalatable sulfurous smell. Cooked just right, the Brussels sprouts should be sweet and nutty with a slight hint of bitterness (but not even close to the bitterness of many other vegetables such as bok choy).

Remove from the water and toss in 1/2 Tbs. butter and season with fresh ground black pepper to taste. The addition of butter helps augment the nuttiness of the Brussels sprouts.
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Serve hot, warm, or cold - they'll be delicious at any temperature.

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I should probably note that the name is "Brussels sprouts", not "Brussel sprouts" or "Brussel's sprouts" because they are named after the Belgian city of Brussels.


Braised Brussels Sprouts (serves 2-4)
1/4-in. (6 mm) waterboildissolvesimmer 8 min.
1/2 tsp. table salt
1 lb. (450 g) Brussels sproutsdrainseason to taste and toss
1/2 Tbs. butter
fresh ground black pepper

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Shilo
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2005 10:35 pm    Post subject: Brussels Sprouts are really good. Reply with quote

I stayed away from Brussels sprouts because my mom never made them and she said they were disgusting. Not having lived at home for many years now, I decided to give them a try and see why they had such a bad reputation. I was surprised at how delicious they were. Braising is a great way to cook them. I also like to saute a few minced cloves of fresh garlic in olive oil and toss the braised sprouts in the garlic oil with some fresh ground pepper right before serving. Good call on this vegetable with the poorly desered reputation.
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guest
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2005 2:00 am    Post subject: B Sprouts Reply with quote

I have recently cooked Brussels Sprouts under the broiler. I sliced them in half, rubbed them with olive oil (in a plastic bag) salt and pepper. Added a couple of tbs Balsamic Vinegar and a handful of pecan halves. Really great, but I've always liked sprouts!
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Zybernaut
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2005 4:19 am    Post subject: The foods we love to hate. Reply with quote

I saw this article on Cooking For Engineers and thought of all the Brussels Sprouts that my brother was forced to eat. When we were little we each got to choose a vegetable when we were at the grocery store. I tended to choose Brussels Sprouts because I knew that my brother didn't like them. He likewise tended to choose lima beans because I didn't like them. Teasing
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Dave
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2005 5:02 am    Post subject: My secret for sprouts? Burn 'em. Reply with quote

They only way I've ever liked sprouts is as follows.

Heat heavy nonstick pan over medium high heat. Add olive oil. Cut sprouts in half and place in pan in a single layer, cut side down. Cook 8-11 minutes or until deeply browned. Turn sprouts and cover pan. Cook 10 minutes until tender. Salt to taste, finish with 1/4 cup heavy cream and 2T grated parmesan if desired.

Even without the cream and cheese, they're the only way my family eats them.
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Michael
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2005 7:04 am    Post subject: Steamed sprouts instead of boiling and using butter Reply with quote

When I was a kid in the 50's my parents were always buying brussel sprouts, asparagus and any number of other veggies. Mom always boiled everything as was the custom back then. You all know the old Donna Reed type of cooking. I would slather everything with butter until it was almost unrecognizable. And I loved it. All of it. But what I probably loved was the butter. Now that I've gotten much older and a little wiser, thanks to the help of my bride, I don't put butter on very much. We either place our sprouts of asparagus for example in a steamer and eat them in a nearly-cooked state or grill them on the Weber with just a little EV Olive Oil with a sprinkling of Kosher. Cut the sprouts in half to get a little char on the cut side as well. Wonderful. And I do agree that they are very much like a very small cabage but much sweeter flesh. Another note... Brussel Sprouts grown on a stalk will keep much longer and stay fresher. They just take up a lot of room in the Fridge unless you cut the stalk in half. Get out the chain saw though because the stalk in very tough. If you could show a picture of one of the stalks I think many readers would find it very interesting.
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1626
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2005 8:34 am    Post subject: Re: Steamed sprouts instead of boiling and using butter Reply with quote

Michael wrote:
If you could show a picture of one of the stalks I think many readers would find it very interesting.

Currently, none of the grocers in my area have Brussels sprouts on the stalk, but as soon as I see one again, I'll take a picture and add it to the article.
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PhotogFan
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2005 12:45 pm    Post subject: Great Shots! Reply with quote

Could you talk about your camera and settings? Great close-ups on the Brussels sprouts. And yes, I agree, it's the smell that turns most folks off. Gag reflex was a rather powerful sensation, as I remember.
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sungoddess444
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2005 1:28 pm    Post subject: Brussels Sprouts Reply with quote

The first time I tasted them, was when I was a teenager at my now ex-husbands parents house. I thought that they were delious and cute.
I steam them, and then put them in a frying pan with some butter and a couple of slices of velveeta cheese. Let the cheese melt, while stirring. The best in taste, and the kids love it this way too. Wink
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Sabrina
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2005 3:28 pm    Post subject: Brussels sprouts!!! Reply with quote

Thank you for giving time to this food of the gods.... may I share my son's favorite way of preparing these little gems?

Chop small and saute in butter - 2 medium yellow onions. Medium heat, continue sauteeing until tender and fragrant.

Prepare brussels spouts: wash, remove tough outer leaves, cut off stem close to each head, and slice head through the stem so each half remains held intact by the base of the stem. Rinse lightly and put in microwave safe bowl; microwave on high until just tender.

Add brussels sprouts to onions, and continue sauteeing until lightly carmelized. Salt and pepper to taste.....YUM!
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kskerr



Joined: 24 Sep 2005
Posts: 13
Location: Iowa/Chicago

PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2005 5:45 pm    Post subject: Skeptic Reply with quote

My mother fed us brussels sprouts once, they were awful. Since then my sister tried them and she liked them, said that our mother overcooked them. Think I'll add them to today's grocery list and give them another shot if the store has them in stock. We'll see Unsure ....
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tabacco



Joined: 01 Oct 2005
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2005 6:31 pm    Post subject: Re: Great Shots! Reply with quote

PhotogFan wrote:
Could you talk about your camera and settings? Great close-ups on the Brussels sprouts. And yes, I agree, it's the smell that turns most folks off. Gag reflex was a rather powerful sensation, as I remember.


Through the magic of EXIF, I can tell you this about that nice Brussels Sprout pic:

Camera: Nikon D100
Flash: None
Focal Length: 180mm
Aperture: F/2.8
Shutter: 1/100
Metering Mode: Pattern
Camera Program Mode: Aperture Priority

Does that help? Smile

By the way, Michael, PHP has support built in for EXIF, if people are interested it might be a neat side feature to add a way to view embedded data on the photos (click the image for a popup or something, maybe).
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Greg
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2005 1:59 am    Post subject: Grilled Brussels Sprouts Reply with quote

Grilled, with oil, salt, and pepper. It's is a real treat! Put em in a vegi griller on the propane, or other grill. Just like grilling corn. They come out a little crispy and great tasting.
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Smillie - OzFire



Joined: 26 Sep 2005
Posts: 24
Location: South Australia

PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2005 7:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another great way to cook them is similar to the braised method above but with i/2 cup of cider vinegar instead of the water and knob of butter... not marg... and nutmeg and a little chili. Served with parmesan cheese on top.
Tastes like little hot, sweet sauerkraut parcels
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1626
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2005 7:31 am    Post subject: Re: Great Shots! Reply with quote

tabacco wrote:
By the way, Michael, PHP has support built in for EXIF, if people are interested it might be a neat side feature to add a way to view embedded data on the photos (click the image for a popup or something, maybe).

I've taken advantage of the EXIF info for some of the other websites that I've worked on, but since this site's photography is less technical than my other work, I didn't include some of this info. I'm in the process of overhauling the look of Cooking For Engineers, and including the EXIF info is definitely something that is on my feature list.
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