Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Brussels Sprouts Sauté

Do you loathe Brussels sprouts? Try this recipe – it will eradicate the memory of every overcooked, pale, strong-smelling, sour Brussels sprout you ever encountered.

Do you love Brussels sprouts? Try this recipe – you’ll love them even more.

This amazing technique yields bright, green, fresh-tasting leaves. Cooking the little leaves separately instead of the whole (or even halved) sprouts means that you can use a shorter cooking time, thus preserving more color, shape, and fresh flavor.
This recipe is my own, adapted from one I found online which promoted this basic technique but added the complicating and (to my mind) unnecessary flavors of maple syrup, vinegar, and spinach. My version is simple and delicious. The ingredients are listed at the end of the post.


Wash the sprouts, and discard any discolored, wilted, or damaged outer leaves.

Peel the leaves from each sprout one at a time until you get to the tightly-massed center portion, which is too tight to pull apart. Keep the leaves whole as much as you can, and set them aside. You might find it easy to slice off the bottom of the sprout first, and work from that end. The leaves are arranged in a spiral pattern, so find the outermost leaf and peel that off first. Keep the tiny center portions; they are tender and delicious, even raw, as I discovered.  

It takes a fair while to remove all the leaves from the sprouts – 15-20 minutes or more – so either do that ahead of time (say, the day before, for a dinner party), or allow enough prep time in your overall meal plan.

Heat a large heavy bottomed skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta or bacon...

...and sauté until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove the crisped bits to a little dish, leaving the fat in the pan.

The remainder of the preparation takes only a few minutes, so if the rest of the meal is not ready to serve, just set the hot pan aside (don’t leave it on the hot burner) and resume this recipe when you are closer to serving.
Add the Brussels sprouts leaves to the hot fat, stirring to distribute.

Over medium-high heat, sauté the leaves for one or two minutes, stirring often. Let them caramelize a little, so they can pick up the nice brown bits from the pan.

When the leaves are just starting to wilt a little, add a very small amount (start with one tablespoon) of good-quality stock:

Use just enough stock to moisten the mixture and encourage deglazing of the fond, the brown goodness that has formed in the pan. There should only be the slightest moisture in the bottom of the pan, not a puddle:

Stir and sauté for about one more minute. The stock should be entirely absorbed and evaporated. Take care not to overcook.

Remove the sprouts from the heat before they are entirely cooked, as they will continue to cook in the heat retained in the pan, especially if it has a heavy bottom.

Add salt and pepper to taste, stir in the reserved crispy bits of bacon, and serve immediately. Use a light hand with the salt, as the bacon or pancetta will bring a salty flavor.

Here are the sprouts accompanying baked haddock cloaked with a mustard sauce, and mashed potatoes flavored with onion and butter.

Brussels Sprouts Sauté
¼ lb. pancetta or bacon, minced
1 pound Brussels sprouts, washed and separated into leaves
1-3 tablespoons good-quality chicken or vegetable stock
Freshly-ground black pepper
Salt (sea salt is nice), to taste

To make this dish vegetarian or vegan, simply omit the pancetta or bacon and sauté the sprouts in olive oil. Sprinkle the finished dish with roasted slivered almonds. It will have a different, though equally delicious, flavor.

All my recipes may be viewed here:

They are further organized as follows, with some overlap:
Main Dishes
Soups and Stews

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