My BS created a stir at the checkout lane at Trader Joe's. "What's that?" one young man wanted to know. "So that's how they grow!" said an older woman behind me. Down South, we don't see many brussels sprouts offered at our markets, much less grow them. They need a cold snap, much like our collard greens, and take up to five months to grow and lots of space.
Why "Brussels"? Belgium is responsible for their breeding, back in the 13th century. They're truly tiny cabbages.
I broke my Buy Local rule because I love brussels sprouts. And this stalk looked fresh and had small heads.
They're easy to cook. NEW YORK TIMES writer Mark Bittman likes to pair them with bacon, which suits Southerners used to cabbage and pork. Some cooks like to sprinkle them with toasted pecans, or grated Parmesan. They can be shredded as well, but then you miss out on presenting them with their gorgeous beautifully round little heads. They need a quick cook, just until wilted.
I like to saute them in butter. I find that by parboiling them for just a minute or two, they'll cook more evenly without toasting the outer leaves in the saute. And the boiling water needs lots of salt to cut that bit of a bitter taste. Then I slice them in half and saute. Use a cast iron skillet so that you can get the pan hot and a nice browning on the cut half of the sprouts.
Brussels Sprouts - on a stalk, or loose, about 2 pounds
4 tablespoons butter
toasted pecans and/or Parmesan cheese
1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Prepare an ice bath (sink or large bowl full of cold water and ice). Add 1 tablespoon salt to the boiling water, then the brussels sprouts. Let sprouts boil for just two minutes, then drain and place in the ice water bath to stop the cooking and maintain that gorgeous green color.
2. Drain when sprouts have cooled and pat them dry. Slice in half.
3. Melt butter in large saute pan or cast iron skillet. Add sprouts, cut side down, and saute until just turning golden brown on the cut side. Flip sprouts over and stir around, carefully, until they have reached your desired tenderness. Salt to taste and serve immediately. Add toasted pecans or freshly grated Parmesan if desired.