I have many a fond memory of the fall. It’s always a relief when the hot Texas summer days begin to wind down a bit and its enjoyable to take a morning stroll around the neighborhood without facing the dangers of dehydration. Yes Fall!
One of the vegetables I do love to see appearing in the markets and supermarkets are Brussel sprouts. Yes, I am fully aware the half of the people out there are excited to see this petit cabbage looking vegetable and that the other half wonder whey one would eat such a thing. The latter half have undoubtable been scarred by the Brussel sprout during childhood. I too suffered the mental trauma of forcing down over cooked boiled Brussel sprouts. There were not enough mashed potatoes in the world to cover up that flavor. These were dark times. Don’t be afraid though. Face your fears and take another look at this nutritional and dare I say …delicious vegetable!
The Brussel sprout is a nutritional bomb. Packing a good amount of vitamin c, vitamin k and folic acid. They are high in fiber, low on the glycemic index, provide some minerals and there is even some research out there that they may have some anticancer properties. This is a vegetable you must take another look at.
Brussels were very popular in Europe for several centuries and are in many areas synonymous with Christmas Dinner. I am no genius but I suspect they were quite popular in Brussels. Wikepedia tells us that they were brought to the United States by French settlers which I think is quite possible. Again, I am no genius but the French Master Chef, Escoffier, in his Guide Culinaire lists several preparations for this “Choux de Bruxelles”. Why not bring some along to the new digs?
Brussel sprouts are best when they are younger and have a firm feel and tight leaves. They can be eaten raw and are good when thinly shaved and tossed with olive oil, salt and lemon juice. In the old days, it was common to boil them, but I find sautéing and then a quick braise where the liquid reduces and glazes the sprouts is the way to go!
In the recipe below I do a hard sauté of the sprouts in my wok. There is no reason you need to use a wok, a sauté pan will work just fine, especially a good cast iron. Preferably one passed down as a family heirloom! I just happen to have a personal attachment to my wok, nothing to be concerned about, I brought it back from Hong Kong with me and the years of use have given it a beautiful patina…. and it’s fun to use.
I use two types of oil. A neutral oil for cooking and a high-quality finishing oil for finishing. Be careful though a bitter olive oil is not a good friend to Brussel sprouts.
Brussel Sprouts with olive oil and lemon
1 pound of Brussel sprouts
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 ½ cups stock (vegetable or chicken)
1 teaspoon garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon of good finishing olive oil
1 tablespoon of olive oil or blended oil for cooking.
- Clean the Brussel sprouts by rinsing in water. Trim the bottoms of the thickest part of the base and remove any loose outer leaves.
- Mince the garlic, juice and zest your lemon and get ready to cook!
- Get your pan nice and hot and add the cooking olive oil. Carefully add your sprouts and let them get some color. Move in the pan from time to time but not too much.
- Once they have the color you like add the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds then add the stock. There should be a violent bubbling of stock and sprouts so be careful.
- Let everything cook until the liquid is almost gone. Check the sprouts and a skewer or knife tip should go through easily with only the slightest bit of resistance. You can add a bit more stock and cook longer if you wish.
- Add the finishing oil, juice and zest. Reduce for 30 more seconds and remove from heat.
- Check your salt and lemon to make sure you don’t want a bit more and then enjoy!