Brussels sprouts the right way

I read once that the per capita annual consumption of Brussels sprouts in the US was 6. My wife and I must account for several hundred other people because we love them and eat them often, mostly in the fall when they are at their best. I suspect that most people have only had bad Brussels sprouts, stale and overcooked, and those can indeed be dreadful. Properly selected and prepared, however, they are a real treat.


They must be fresh, relatively heavy feeling, and firm to the touch. A brown stem end is OK, you can trim that off, the same goes for a few damaged or discolored leaves. You sometimes see the sprouts still attached to the stem. Pretty, but no real advantage – plus, you are almost sure to get a wide range of sizes, which makes proper cooking more difficult. But, on the stem or off, FRESH is what’s important.

Trim a thin slice off the stem and and remove any discolored, damaged, or loose leaves. At this point, Julia Child (my goddess!) has you cut a cross in the stem end to promote even cooking. To be honest, I have never found this to make a difference—but go ahead if you like.  If you have various sizes, separate the larger from the smaller.

Bring a pot of salted water to a gentle boil. Add the larger sprouts (or all of them if they are not sorted). Simmer for a few minutes. Add the smaller sprouts and simmer for another 5 min or so. You need to use your judgement here, you want the sprouts partially cooked but still pretty hard in the center. Drain, rinse briefly with cold water, and set aside. Let them air-dry, you do not want them wet for the next steps. This can be dome a day ahead.

Heat a saute pan that can hold the sprouts loosely in a single layer. Add unsalted butter (no, NOT MARGARINE! If you use margarine you will get what you deserve, an inferior result. Olive oil might work but I have not tried it.), perhaps 1 or 2 TB of butter per cup of sprouts. Heat until the foam subsides then add the sprouts. Cook over medium heat, shaking the pan now and then, until the sprouts are nicely browned and crisp tender. This might take 10 minutes, again you have to pay attention and judge for yourself. Add some good pinches of salt and pepper and shake, then serve.

Explore posts in the same categories: Vegetables/potatoes/rice, Vegetarian

One Comment on “Brussels sprouts the right way”

  1. Geraldine Says:

    I LOVE Brussels sprouts, always have. So many don’t though. 😦

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