The Best B.S. Ever

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Brussels sprouts have a bad rap. How many people detest the mere thought of them, and lets be honest, kids (and many adults) don't exactly line up to fill their plates with the spherical little veggies.

Their alien appearance doesn't really help their cause and seems like something out of Dinotopia or Invasion of the Pod People it just can't put up a fight against the familiar bell pepper, or comfort and safety of the onion. Of course, I find that many people don't even know what they look like, yet have developed a fervent dislike, even fear, of the minute cabbages.

They have a myth all of their own that's cultivated at an early age. Cartoons and legends tell of brussel sprouts steamed to a limp mess of bitter and slightly transluscent leaves. Their near mutant-green hue, like that of some strange experiment gone awry, a signal of its horrid poison taste akin to that of a colorful rainforest frog. The horror story precedes any actual interaction with them and thus many find disgust in them.

Indeed their actuality is something a bit more humble. The stalks of sprouts were first cultivated in Rome, Belgium, and Romania. They eventually moved along into France and Spain until these countries brought them over to what would be North America with California now being the biggest producer of them in the states and Ontario in Canada. However, a large portion of sprouts are shipped in now days from Mexico, where due to the high heat their flavor suffers (however, their tight little bods can easily survive the trip). Still, this knowledge is lost on most and therefore the cruciferous little plants finds few fans.

"You made brussels sprouts?" More than a few guests have recoiled to this moment in the dinner I serve them, a slight grimace and a questionable look.

"But of course!" I reply. "You haven't tasted them my way." A sentence we have all heard before only to meet the challenge and reconfirm our disgust.

"Yeah... I dunno," a challenge always seems to arise but I took an oath the moment I plopped them in my shopping bag that as a sprout roadie it would be my job to convert another.

"You've only had them steamed or boiled haven't you?" I query.

"Yes," a quizzical look is directed at me, then back to the offending veggies to ensure they don't attack.

"Well, these have been pan seared with a bit of olive oil. The heat diffuses a lot of their bitterness. Afterwards they're salted and given a few fresh cracks of pepper, and then a light shaving of Parmesan cheese. Trust me, I've changed many minds with this dish."

The eyes rarely leave the plate and I'm never sure if the person hears me, so entranced with raw fear they are unable to respond to the most basic stimuli. After more coaxing, the victim relents to single bite.

"Wow... it's... good."

"I told you."

And did I. Many of my friends and family now buy the sprouts on their own to cook at home for themselves or for friends. I've made many a meal with just a large bowl of these and a small glass of white wine. Rustic, elegant, flavorful, and simple, plus you can do it on a tight budget. I encourage you, embrace the brussels sprouts.

Seared Brussels Sprouts
Serves however many you need...

What You'll Need...
As many brussels sprouts as your and your companions will eat. I can put away about 8 or 9, but usually 5 per person is good.
Parmesan cheese
olive oil
(kosher) salt and pepper

What You'll Do...
1. Cut off the stem of each sprout and discard it plus the loose outer leaves. Quarter them.

2. Place a few tablespoons of olive oil in the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat the pan to high heat.

3. Place the sprouts cut side down. Allow them to sit for about 3 minutes. Give them a stir and a shake. They should begin to brown and char a bit, this is what you want. Eventually they will begin to pop and shimmy on their own, possibly even preforming a few little flips for you. After about 2-3 more minutes turn them into a bowl.

4. Grate with fresh Parmesan cheese and another sprinkle of salt and pepper. Serve immediately.


  1. Brussels sprouts: freaking delicious. I like them roasted, but it's the same idea - high eat makes them sing. I'll try your way next!

  2. I have converted myself to cooking brussels sprouts this way-seared then steamed a BIT. I cut an X into the bottom and throw in a bit of good bacon, chopped. Sear all that up and then throw a lid on it for a minute or so. The sprouts end up tasting like bacon with a little kick of that bitterness.
    SO GOOD.

  3. That sounds fairly tasty :) I'll have to see if I can find some sprouts at the store.

  4. God russels sprouts are so good. Microwaved with a little butter is my usual method, but I'll try this recipe.

    Beets and spinach are also, as you say, shibby.

    Hominy, however, just does not like my mouth.

  5. Sounds good. I'd be willing to give it a try.

  6. Like many I detested them growing up. But since reaching adulthood my mom started roasting them in EVOO and a little salt..can we say delicious!!!! I love them now and my hubby and I have them at least once a week...sometimes more! THis way looks quicker, so I think I will try it next. Thanks!!

  7. I love BS! I prepare them somewhat like you did, but I halve them and boil them gently *then* saute until browned. Delish!

  8. Only 8 or 9...5 per guest????? I can easily put away a whole bag of frozen petite brussels sprouts if I let myself! A high-end restaurant I used to work at back east would parboil a humongous pot of them during lunch prep for their dinner service, then store them in the walk-in. I would go in there to cool off and hide with a salt shaker and polish off quite few cold ones!

  9. I love brussels sprouts made well. Lots of food I thought I didn't like was just not a great version of it.

  10. Brussels sprouts are a 19th century invention from the royal gardener in Belgium, where the king got the royalties for the seeds. Nowadays there are lots of different types of BS, the taste and texture being much improved, as well as the colour.
    Try them mixed with roasted and coarsely chopped hazelnuts, even boiled - but with bite - they are delicious.

  11. I made sprouts for Christmas dinner and got the same reaction--"I don't like sprouts, but I'll try them because you made them." And whaddya know? I made some converts :) The trick is not to kill them so that they are gray and nasty, and then they are delicious little veggies. We put the leftovers with some chopped ham in risotto. Yum.

  12. I have some BS sitting in the frige, I'll have to try them that way. I usually cook them with onions and bacon. This sounds like a little healthier alternative.
    Happy New Year!

  13. Love Brussel sprouts!! Seared or roasted they are fabulous and so easy to make! I appreciate all those people who don't like them, so there's more for those who do.

  14. this is one veggie i've actually never tried to cook. now i have a great recipe :) thanks!

  15. THis is the way I've always done them too except I add some chopped walnuts to the pan as well. They get nice and toasty and go great with the Parmesan.

  16. Hey! It's Erika from 220A.
    I love fresh brussels sprouts. I always have. What was really funny was my walking up to the register with a couple of stalks of the little pod people. The clerk thought it was something from the floral department...
    Don't knock the steamed brussels sprouts too much. I find that as long as you don't over cook them they are wonderful, but that goes without saying on most foods.

    Your recipe is very yum!

  17. I served some at Christmas this year and even hard-core brussel-sprout haters were coming back for seconds. I halved mine and tossed them in a little truffle oil with kosher salt and pepper and roasted them, cut side down, in the oven at a fairly high temperature until tender. Delicious!

  18. I just made them following your recipe. And Goodness Gracious!!! This is my new favorite side dish! thank you!

  19. I ate B.S. growing up and they were boiled until grey and were tolerable to eat. Today I make them similar to your recipe but instead of quartering them I cut them in half and them slice them so they are shredded. I love the texture of shredded, sauteed, very elegant B.S.

  20. Oh yeah, sauted sprouts are great. Next time add a splash of balsamic and shred some ricotta salata over the top. Even my Uncle eats them prepared this way.

  21. I love them but they do get a bad rap. But they are wonderful I just bought some at the market for dinner tonight.

  22. Another variation on this which can be great is to slice and wok fry them along with chopped boiled chestnuts and dress with a bit of sesame oil - like your recipe it removes the bitterness and the nuttiness really complements the taste.

  23. Just bought brussels sprouts for the first time ever, and I made them like this. Deee-licious! I will definitely be buying them again. Thanks!


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