Thursday, October 13, 2011

Delicious recipe gives reason for craving Brussels Sprouts

Lemon Butter Brussels Sprout Sauerkraut-Style

The first memory I have of Brussels sprouts appearing on a dinner plate was in my late teens. My mother introduced them around Thanksgiving and served them alongside stuffed pork chops and sweet potatoes. Not only was the combination seasonal, colorful and complementing, the Brussels sprouts were cooked and seasoned to perfection. Her recipe, she told us, couldn’t be simpler, after steaming the miniature green cabbages until fork tender, my mother tossed them with brown butter (butter she had slightly browned over a medium flame) sprouts were coated with the butter and seasoned with salt. The result was yummy. Many years later, I thought how clever my mother to introduce her mature brood of five a sophisticated vegetable when our palates could appreciate them. Brussels sprouts were the accompaniment to many of our dinners through the duration of their season beginning in the fall and throughout the winter months.

Selecting, Storing, Preparing

Brussels sprouts grow in a spiral pattern on robust two to three foot stalks; each stalk depending on height yields about 20-30 sprouts. Farmers’ markets and some grocery stores sell Brussels sprouts attached to the stalk. While this is my favorite way to buy them and certainly the freshest, they are more commonly sold after they have been cut from the stalk. When selecting, chose firm, small, compact sprouts that are a vivid sage green, avoid any sprouts with yellowed leaves. For uniform cooking, select sprouts that are equal in size. Wash and prepare sprouts just before cooking. Fresh sprouts will keep refrigerated in a perforated bag for 5 or more days. 

The secret to great tasting Brussels sprouts is in the cooking; they are best cooked until just fork tender. When perfectly cooked these sage green nuggets have a slightly sweet, nutty flavor. To prepare for cooking, soak sprouts in a bowl of tepid water for about 10 minutes. Rinse and trim stem end. To ensure even cooking, cut an X about a ¼-inch deep into the remaining base of each sprout. Brussels can be boiled, braised, roasted or steamed, to retain the most nutrients and for maximum cooking results they are best steamed. Cooking times vary depending on size, cook for about 5-10 minutes, careful not to overcook, after 5 minutes, check every few minutes.

Lemon Butter Brussels Sprouts - Sauerkraut-Style

Hopefully I have influenced you (if you’ve gotten this far, I have dutifully done my Brussels sprout convincing) to be a fan of sprouts or at least willing to try this recipe. My husband Nick is the official taste tester for the recipes I create, this recipe is among his favorite.

½ cup butter, (1 stick)
2 packages or 1½ pounds Brussels sprouts (about 2 dozen)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon peel, finely grated
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

To prepare sauerkraut-style Brussels sprouts, remove stem, cut in half lengthwise, thinly slice each half widthwise. In a large pan, melt butter over moderate heat, add Brussels sprouts and salt, stir to evenly coat sprouts with butter. Cover, reduce heat to medium low and cook for 5- 10 minutes or until nearly fork tender, stirring occasionally. Add lemon peel and juice, stir, cover and cook an additional 2-5 minutes or until just tender. Season with pepper. Serves 6.

Brussels sprouts are a tempting side to baked chicken, stuffed pork chops, pork tenderloin and braised short ribs and if your don’t serve sauerkraut with turkey on Thanksgiving, (a tradition among many) Brussels sprouts make a colorful and unique addition to this holiday meal.