Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Interesting Vegetables: Part One Million

Am I to understand that we have *no* bakers here?! 38 unique visitors yesterday and not a single entry into the contest ... what gives? Well, let this be a lesson for you ... rather than offering the scrumptious Horns recipe today ... you're going to get brussels sprouts! And you're going to like them too ... I promise.

Now, I'm not simply offering this recipe as a scold, I'm here to lobby for this oft forgotten, mistakenly maligned, nutritional power-house. Brussels sprouts are rich in dietary fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate, Potassium and Manganese - to name but a few. Beyond the myriad of health benefits, they're absolutely delicious ... if properly cooked.

Sadly, many of us have had to endure some pretty woeful sprout experiences. I'm thinking of the boiled sprout ... pale, mushy, lacking in both texture and flavor ... this method of cooking really doesn't do these little gems justice. Fear not, there are other far more enticing ways to spin the sprout! I like them roasted, or shredded and sauteed, but my favorite method by far is pan-braising. With the addition of some broth, Balsamic vinegar and a bit of spice, sprouts really shine.

In typical Diva fashion - I don't really have a recipe and don't measure anything. Again, we're talking technique here ...

Braised Brussels Sprouts:
  • a bunch of brussel sprouts
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • a pinch of sugar*
  • crushed red pepper flakes
  • some low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • about a teaspoon of aged Balsamic Vinegar
Wash the sprouts and trim them by cutting off about a quarter inch of the stem end. Remove any blemished or funky looking outer leaves and cut them in half, lengthwise.

Heat a large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat and add just enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the halved sprouts, cut side down, and raise the heat a bit. Add a pinch of Kosher salt, a shake of crushed red pepper flakes, and - if you're not on the Beach - a tiny bit of granulated sugar, just a pinch. (This will help the sprouts caramelize, but its not really necessary.) Allow the sprouts to cook undisturbed until they are well-browned - but not burnt, then add about a half cup of broth to the pan, along with a teaspoon or so of balsamic vinegar. Stir to combine, cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium and allow the sprouts to braise for approximately 5 minutes or so, checking every so often to be sure the pan doesn't dry out completely. The broth will reduce and the vinegar will ensure a nice glaze.

Now, I like my veggies crisp-tender, not soggy. About 5 minutes, is enough for me but your mileage may vary, of course. Check the sprouts for desired tenderness along the way, and serve when you approve!

Your sprouts should look something like this when you add the broth and vinegar:

The finished sprouts will be savory, well-glazed, a bit spicy and altogether delicious! I could eat an entire pan by myself and will often forgo other sides in favor of more sprouts. They're *that* good.

I suppose at this point I should confess that this post is not just a warning / endorsement ... I simply haven't had time to make the Horns this week. Our December social schedule is as crazy as its ever been and time is flying. I hope to get to the Horns soon, but it may be next week. Meanwhile, there's still time to enter the Virtual Cookie Swap ... you have until December 7th.

So, where do you stand on sprouts? Are you a fan or deathly afraid of them? Curious Diva wants to know.

Bon appetite!


Anonymous said...

Yum to the 15th power! If they're done right, they are one of the best veggies you can get. Your recipe sounds quite tasty. Ever had them roasted with just sea salt and olive oil? So great!

Deb said...

I LOVE brussel sprouts - as a matter of fact we had them with supper tonight. I steam them and then add salt, pepper, butter and dijon mustard. Too good!

I will be trying your method next week as it sounds like another wonderful variation.

John laughs every week when I wipe out the freah produce section of whatever sprouts are available. I have been a fan since I was a child and thought they were mini cabbages that I would eat one layer at a time. LOL


Laurie said...

I adore brussel sprouts and your blog is great! I was on a different mission, but couldn't help stopping to comment.

Anonymous said...

The sprouts look delish. Must try this recipe. I love sprouts just in plain old butter, so I'm sure to love these.

As for the cookie contest, someone already posted my signature cookie, so I'm out! ;-|


The Diva on a Diet said...

Duodishes - Welcome and thanks for stopping by! I have tried them roasted and love them that way too. So great indeed!

Deb - I was thinking of you when I made these the other night because I know your as big a fan as I am. I hope you'll like them this way ... let me know! :)

Laurie - Welcome to you too! I'm looking forward to catching up on your blog and am glad you found me for your mission. You rock!

Cindy - was your signature cookie the one with oatmeal, pb and chocolate chips? I remember that form a LONG time ago and still have the recipe. Love them!

Anonymous said...

No need to sell me Diva, I was sold on them as a kid. Steamed, melted butter and white pepper, delicious.