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Brussels Sprouts

December 8, 2015 - Radio Kitchen - Brussels Sprouts

When it comes to green vegetables, and I eat a lot of them, I have a list of my big 4.  Broccoli, green beans, asparagus and Brussels sprouts are on my vegetable Mt. Rushmore, but I needed to ask Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School how I could broaden my technique.  So he gave me a few new ideas.

First, my standard way of preparing them:  I trim the stems, peel off any loose or wilted leaves, and steam them for about 15 minutes.  Then I make a sauce of melted butter and Worcestershire Sauce and I'm a happy  boy.  But I need to go beyond that.

Analysis suggested that in general there are three approaches:  eat them raw, boil or steam them, or roast them.  One thing to keep in mind is that the sprouts are firm and dense, and they don't cook quickly.  So you will often times want to cut them in half length-wise.  To further hasten cooking, cut a small X in the stump.

Here's a nice, quick and easy idea.

                Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Red Grapes

1 lb. of Brussels sprouts, trimmed, halved length-wise
1/2 lb seedless red grapes (you could use white, but the color would be blander)
2 medium large shallots, peeled and cut cross-wise
3 tbs olive oil
1 tbs fresh thyme leaves
1 tbs fresh tarragon leaves
salt and pepper

1.  Heat your oven to 375°.  Line a baking sheet with foil, and toss the sprouts, grapes, shallots along with the olive oil, herbs and seasoning.

2.  Turn the sprouts cut side down and roast until they start to brown and turn tender, about 25 minutes.

The earthy Brussels sprout is often paired with the earthy sweetness of the cooked chestnut.  Here's a recipe from Dione Lucas's "Cordon Bleu Cookbook."

                   Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts

1 pound chestnuts
2 tbs butter
2 tbs sherry
1 tsp meat glaze (concentrated beef stock)
1 tsp tomato paste
2 tsps potato flour
1 cup light beef stock
1 bay leaf
1 pound sprouts, peeled, trimmed
lemon juice

1.  Cut an "X" into the chestnuts with a sharp knife.  Place in water and bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes.  Allow to cool down, then remove shell and paper-like skin, and brown quickly in the butter.

2.  Remove the nuts and set aside.  In the same pan, stir in the meat glaze, tomato paste, and potato flour.  Pour on the light stock.  Stir over a high flame until it boils. Put the nuts back, and reduce heat.  Add the bay leaf and simmer the nuts until they become tender.

3.  Boil the sprouts in salted water with a little lemon juice added.  When cooked, drain them and add to the nuts and their sauce.  Serve hot in a casserole.


Many recipes suggest serving the sprouts with a cream sauce.  Here's a savory recipe to try out.

                    Quick Sherry Cream Sauce

4 tbs butter
4 tbs all-purpose flour
pinch of ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 cups heavy cream blended with 1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
2-4 tbs Oloroso sherry, to taste

1.  Ina skillet over low heat, you will make  a roux with the butter, flour and seasonings.  Stir the flour into the melted butted, and keep stirring as it thickens. As it starts to bubble, gently pour in the cream, stirring constantly.  Add as much cream as you want for a desired consistency.  Keep stirring over the low heat until the entire mixture is smooth and uniform.

2.  Sprinkle in the cheese, and stir as it melts.  When the cheese is incorporated, add the sherry a little at a time, whisking it in thoroughly.  Taste constantly and stop with the sherry when it is to your liking.

3.Serve warm over your cooked Brussels sprouts.

Numerous recipes mention Brussels sprouts with citrus fruit.  The sweetness of the fruit, say a mandarin orange, stands up to the gentle bitterness of the sprout.  Here's a very quick way to marry those flavors together.

              Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts and Mandarin Oranges

1 1/2 lb. fresh Brussels sprouts (I've used frozen)
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tbls. red wine vinegar
2 tbls. white wine
Splash of Worcestershire sauce
1 tbls. Dijon mustard shopping list
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. each of salt and pepper
2/3 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
1/2 cup mandarin orange segments

1.  Wash and trim sprouts, cut off tough parts of stems.

2.  Boil the sprouts in a covered saucepan.  When tender, drain and keep warm.

3.  In another sauce pan combine the oil and the next six ingredients. Cook over medium heat until a nice sauce is formed.

4.  Toss in the walnuts and cook for about 2 minutes, warming them.  Toss in the mandarin orange slices and warm for about 30 seconds.

5.  Pour the sauce over the sprouts, and serve in a small vegetable dish.

Al Spoler, well known to WYPR listeners as the wine-loving co-host of "Cellar Notes" has had a long-standing parallel interest in cooking as well. Al has said, the moment he started getting serious about Sunday night dinners was the same moment he started getting serious about wine. Over the years, he has benefited greatly from being a member of the Cork and Fork Society of Baltimore, a gentlemen's dining club that serves black tie meals cooked by the members themselves who are some of Baltimore's most accomplished amateur cooks.
Executive Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Corks restaurant is fascinated by food and wine, and the way they work in harmony on the palate. His understanding of the two goes all the way to the molecular level, drawing on his advanced education in molecular biology. His cuisine is simple and surprising, pairing unexpected ingredients together to work with Corks' extensive wine offerings.