Our contributors give you brief reviews of recent cookbooks/ kitchen gadgets/ recipes they’ve tried, and tell you whether you should take it home, just give it a taste, or toss it out.
My husband and I are ‘super-tasters,’ which means we can taste phenylthiocarbamide and 6-n-propylthiouracil, which is Fancy Science for we don’t like cilantro. We’re only mild supertasters, though, because we can eat broccoli and kale.
Brussels sprouts have these same compounds, and it makes them taste like battery acid, especially if over-cooked. But there are (allegedly) ways to do them up that keep them from being little balls of nasty, and I’m with Henry Tilney on it being ‘well to have as many holds upon happiness as possible’. I LIKE LIKING STUFF.
So I’m out to find a likable form of sprout.
SLICED AND SAUTÉED.
This recipe claims to obviate the bitterness with a short cook time, made possible by the thinly-sliced nature of the sprouts. They’re only ‘easy’ if you have a mandolin slicer and a Kevlar glove (which I do). Otherwise, you’re slicing a few dozen tiny beasts by hand, and that is WORK. The quick sauté leave the sprouts crunchy and flavorful, and the maple syrup caramelizes, making these into a bitter-sweet-salty candy. Does that sound gross? It’s kind of delicious.
QUARTERED AND STEAMED.
I’m never sure I’m browning butter right. But a sweet old lady in a community garden (it was so idyllic and pastoral I could have punched something) gave us some dill, so I swirled that butter until the nutty aromas something solids something brown. Whatever.
The recipe called for the sprouts to be quartered and steamed, which brought out their intrinsic soapy tang. It is ENTIRELY POSSIBLE I steamed them too long, but more likely that steaming just engrossens things. Rancid-leaves-taste aside, the butter was rich and warm and the dill was bright, so I would totally remake this with thinly-sliced, sautéed sprouts.
Verdict: Taste, and if steamed Brussels sprouts are your jam, then proceed as advised since it’s WAAAAY less work.
HALVE AND ROAST THEM.
This was, by far, the easiest prep for the sprouts, because you’re just like *stem, WHACK* and hey, on to the next. The meal itself was a little laborious, and let us decree once and for all that a ‘one-dish’ meal should be cooked in one dish. Maybe two. But none of this ‘bake the chicken, roast the potatoes and then the sprouts, fry the bacon, sauté the mushrooms, assemble the whole thing and then bake.’ THAT DIRTIES SO MANY DISHES.
Anywert. I’m not sure I roasted the sprouts for long enough because the recipe didn’t specify (srsly, recipe, get your shit together). But they were slightly tender and only just beginning to brown on the edges, and lo, Brussels sprouts taste good with other stuff. The salty bacon and cheese, the cozy potatoes, and the little nubbiny mushrooms all made excellent friends with the slightly bitter sprouts. The chicken was an extra world of work and just bogged down the dish, but otherwise this is a fantastic brunch or dinner, and I hid the leftovers on the shelf that my husband can’t see.
I’m coming around to sprouts. Have you turned a Strong Dislike into a Tolerate In Certain Circumstances, Particularly Those Involving Cheese?
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