One of the delights of life is eating with friends; second to that is talking about eating. And, for an unsurpassed double whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends.
Laurie Colwin

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Crunchy Brussels Sprouts



This is a really terrific recipe for Brussels sprouts. Even Brussels sprouts haters have been known to gobble it up. It's adapted from a Mark Bittman recipe with some help from the Brussels sprouts wisdom of Marian Morash in The Victory Garden Cookbook, a cookbook I love. Even though it was announced that it was going to be re-released after being out of print for far too long, it's still not available except used.

I think this recipe is ripe for adaptation - use butter and add a little cream to thicken into a sauce, use bacon instead of pancetta.

Crunchy Brussels Sprouts
Adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

Serves 4

1 to 1½ pounds small to medium Brussels sprouts, trimmed
2 tablespoons butter or extra-virgin olive oil (I use olive oil)
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon plain breadcrumbs or 1/4 cup diced pancetta
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves (optional)
Salt to taste

The rule for his recipe is don't overcook the sprouts.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil, and add salt. Add the trimmed Brussels sprouts, and boil them until they are just tender. This will take between 4 and 8 minutes depending on the size of the Brussels sprouts, so start poking with a cake tester at 4 minutes and taste one as soon as it seems barely done. At that point drain the sprouts, and plunge them into cold - even iced - water to stop them from continuing to cook. Drain again, and put them on a towel to absorb moisture.

Cut each sprout in half.

Place the butter or oil in a deep skillet or saucier over medium heat, and add the garlic. Do not let the garlic burn, so be prepared to remove it from the pan if it starts to get too dark. When the butter foam subsides, or the oil is hot, add the sprouts and the breadcrumbs. Stir until hot.

If you're using the pancetta instead of the breadcrumbs, add the cubes of pancetta before the sprouts. Stir until the pancetta colors slightly. Then add the sprouts, and stir until hot.

Turn off the heat. Remove the garlic if you haven't already done so, and toss the sprouts with the lemon juice and parsley if you are using it. Season to taste with salt and serve.

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