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.
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.
Peel off any loose or yellow leaves.
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.)
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.
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.
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. (The sulfur smell comes from the excessive release of sulfur when overcooked.) 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.
Serve hot, warm, or cold - they'll be delicious at any temperature.}?>
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) water||boil||dissolve||simmer 8 min.|
|1/2 tsp. table salt|
|1 lb. (450 g) Brussels sprouts||drain||season to taste and toss|
|1/2 Tbs. butter|
|fresh ground black pepper|