I used to be a brussels sprouts hater. It was the one food I couldn’t stand, next to cabbage. My first experience with miniature little lettuceheads was at a dinner at my parents’ friends’ house. They also served lobster. So it was actually a night where I had two first experiences. The lobster was great, served with clarified butter. But the brussels sprouts were boiled, and served with butter, salt and pepper. They were bitter and made me gag. I’m sure many of you had the same experience. I never tried them again.
My second experience with brussels sprouts was at a dinner last week at George’s on the Cove. It was restaurant week, and the sprouts were served with scallops. I figured my palate had changed, and maybe I would enjoy them now. Not only did I enjoy them, they were prepared differently. They were…roasted? Sautéed? They were slightly crispy on the outside, but tender on the inside, and they were caramelized. I didn’t know brussels sprouts could be caramelized, like onions. I wanted to try them at home.
I’m sure you can roast them covered in olive oil, salt and pepper in the oven to get the same effect, but I made these on the stovetop first with a great recipe from 101cookbooks. I’m sure I’ll be preparing them different ways now that they are in season here.
Golden-Crusted Brussels Sprouts
(recipe adapted from http://www.101cookbooks.com)
24 small brussels sprouts
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for rubbing
fine-grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1) Wash the brussels sprouts well. Trim the stem ends and remove any raggy outer leaves. Cut in half from stem to top and gently rub each half with olive oil, keeping it intact (or if you are lazy just toss them in a bowl with a glug of olive oil).
2) Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in your largest skillet over medium heat. Don’t overheat the skillet, or the outsides of the brussels sprouts will cook too quickly. Place the brussels sprouts in the pan flat side down (single-layer), sprinkle with a couple pinches of salt, cover, and cook for roughly 5 minutes; the bottoms of the sprouts should only show a hint of browning. Cut into or taste one of the sprouts to gauge whether they’re tender throughout. If not, cover and cook for a few more minutes.
3) Once just tender, uncover, turn up the heat, and cook until the flat sides are deep brown and caramelized. Use a spatula to toss them once or twice to get some browning on the rounded side. Salt and pepper to your taste.