filling the empty nest with food
I haven’t quite decided if eating brussels sprouts is enjoyable or merely tolerable. Do they actually taste good, or am I trying to like them because I think I should like them? Are they an acquired taste enjoyed by adults with sophisticated palates? Or was the child in me right when she rejected them for their overly strong cabbage-y flavor? For me, the jury is still out. Which probably indicates I’m trying to argue myself into liking them.
I grew my own brussels sprouts this summer, which means I will make myself eat them and try really hard to like them. Fortunately, there are glazed brussels sprouts, where butter and sugar come to the rescue to impart a little buttery-sweet coating that raises them above their merely tolerable state.
Here is an old recipe from Cook’s Illustrated from the mid-1990s. (The recipe normally includes chestnuts, but I wanted to eat my brussels sprouts all by their lonesome–considering with each bite, do I love you, do I love you not?)
1 pound small Brussels sprouts, stem end trimmed with a knife and discolored leaves removed by hand
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1 16-ounce can peeled chestnuts in water, drained (about 1 1/2 cups)
Salt and ground black pepper
Bring the sprouts, 1/2 c water, and salt to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Cover and simmer (shaking the pan once or twice to redistribute the sprouts) until a knife tip inserted into the center of a sprout meets no resistance, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain well.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and the sugar in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Stir in the chestnuts. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chestnuts are glazed, about 3 minutes.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and the sprouts and cook, stirring occasionally, to heat through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.