Brussels sprouts are members of the Brassica family, which includes cabbages and mustards so they are cousins to broccoli, cauliflower, kale and so much more. Like all members of this august family, the Brussel sprout is loaded with vitamins and minerals, notably vitamin K, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Which all sounds like a way to convince you to eat them, because they’re good for you.
But they’re so much more than good for you. They’re tender, delicious, addictive, and when they are well-prepared as in this simple recipe, you will find yourself going back for more. Over and over again.
Brussels Sprout Secrets
One of the secrets to a great Brussels sprout includes a freeze out in the field, for that causes natural sugars in the plant to surge. Another secret is this recipe, where they cook gently until they are tender through. There is no crisp, greenness left but instead all of their naturally round, almost buttery flavor at its peak, enhanced here with the addition of herbs and slender slices of garlic.
So why are these teeny cabbages called Brussels sprouts? They don’t grow right in Brussels, but made their way to the region around the city, from Milan where they were called cavoli Milanese, or Milan cabbages. Belgian growers loved them but they took up too much space in the garden. After a little tinkering they were trained to grow up a fat, thick green stalk which they crowd, hugging together to a crown which looks like a giant green rose. Besides being delicious, they’re so attractive they are occasionally included in flower arrangements!
So do serve these often in winter, as a first course or along with your favorite roast meat or poultry, steamed fish, or as part of a vegetarian meal. You’ll watch them disappear!
BRAISED BRUSSEL SPROUTS - CHOUX DE BRUXELLES BRAISES
- 1 generous tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup;125ml fresh spring water, or filtered water
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- Several sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 pound;500g Brussel sprouts, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
- 1 large clove garlic green germ removed, cut lengthwise in shards
- Sea Salt and freshly ground white pepper
- Chervil sprigs - optional garnish
- Place the olive oil, the water, and the herbs in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat and add the Brussel sprouts and the garlic. Turn the Brussel sprouts so they are coated with the oil and water mixture, making sure they cook on their cut sides. When the water and oil come to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until the Brussel sprouts are tender, 5 to 8 minutes.
- When the Brussel sprouts are nearly tender through, remove the cover and shake the pan so any liquid in it evaporates. Remove from the heat, season the Brussels sprouts with salt and pepper and transfer them to a warmed serving dish. Garnish with the chervil and serve immediately.