Saturday, October 20, 2007

A sprout by any other name

Why oh, why do so many of us find the Brussels Sprout so repulsive? Their miniature, compact heads are just prefect for peeling – at least that is how I would eat them as a kid. Purchased still en-branch they make a superb element in a floral display. Though if you only have experienced this shrunken cabbage cousin boiled away I don’t wonder why you might despise them.

Fresh from the market and snapped from its stalk they cook within fives in water, or charred in the oven to rid it any “cabbage-y” remnant. It is time to caste off that old, outdated perception and try this autumn vegetable anew.

Buy tight heads that a pale to rich green coloration that are not bruised. If you must buy them snugly packed in basket with a cellophane roof remove the wrapping upon getting home to allow them to breath to avoid moisture from collecting, and starting them to decompose. They great part of the Brussels Sprout is that is will be with us through the first cold snap – like it or not.

Braised Brussels Sprouts and Pearl Onions - serves 6

1 pound Brussels Sprouts
1 pint pearl onions
1-cup chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons butter
1/8-teaspoon nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

Trim the Brussels sprouts by discarding the outer leaves and placing an “x” on the bottom of the Brussels sprouts. This “x” allows an even cooking of the them.

Cut the top and bottom of the pearl onion and place in boiling water for 3 minutes. Then drain and remove the outer skin of the onion.

In a high sided sauté pan place all ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for 15 minutes.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts - yields 4 to 6 servings

2 pounds Brussels sprouts
1/2 pound oyster mushroom
6 scallions
1/2-cup olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Pre heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Trim the Brussels sprouts by cutting off the bottom and cutting them in half. Discard any bruised and unattractive leaves. Wash the Brussels sprouts well and let them sit in the colander. You don not have to be concerned about the water clinging to them. It will actually help them cook.

Trim the base of the oyster mushrooms and cut into a rough chop. Trim the root base from the scallion and the tops of the green. Wash the scallions well to dislodge any dirt. Cut the scallion into 1 1/2” long pieces, and then cut the white pieces in half length wise. Toss everything together with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Place the Brussels sprout mixture onto a baking tray and cook in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the sprouts are slightly charred and tender. Serve warm.

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