filling the empty nest with food

Liking Brussels Sprouts

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?)

Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts  (from Cook’s Illustrated The New Best Recipe)

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.






15 comments on “Liking Brussels Sprouts

  1. MeaghanC
    November 3, 2014

    Try roasting Brussels sprouts, finishing with some fresh lemon juice and you will be converted!

  2. njayc
    November 4, 2014

    The purple ones are awesome!

  3. Ema Jones
    November 4, 2014

    Adding herbs like oregano, thyme, etc. would pop up the recipe!

    • Catherine
      November 5, 2014

      Sounds worth a try.

      • Ema Jones
        November 5, 2014

        Yeah, taste enhances when you exchange ideas. Happy cooking ❤ ❤

  4. Mary
    November 4, 2014

    We will have to try this recipe. I am in a the same complicated relationship with brussel sprouts.

    • Catherine
      November 5, 2014

      Yeah, complicated. That’s very accurate!

  5. Shaun McElhatton
    November 4, 2014

    They LOOK delicious.

  6. ruthsmason
    November 4, 2014

    Hope all went well with surgery today. Loved this as I have LIKED sprouts since a small kid–along with liver. Family couldn’t believe it as I hated desserts 🙂 I’ll call you Thursday for sure to see what I can bring over. YOU call me if you need anything at all. Soon; recover well. R.

    Sent from my iPad

  7. Caroline
    November 4, 2014

    They look great! I can only handle a few in one sitting. Jim likes them with mayonaisse. Anything to cover the heavy flavor!

    • Catherine
      November 5, 2014

      Right. I have a friend who likes all vegetables as long as he can eat them with cheese sauce.

  8. James
    November 14, 2014

    I steam them and then dip each one into some mayo or Miracle Whip. Love ’em that way!

    • Catherine
      November 19, 2014

      That sounds delicious! Can’t beat an excuse to eat mayonnaise.

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