My favorite, go-to Brussels sprouts recipe has reigned unchallenged for eons. It involves roasting the Brussels sprouts with bacon and garlic, then sprinkling them with balsamic vinegar, and it is beyond delicious. This assumes you like Brussels sprouts, which I realize is the minority of people in this world. Those of you who will eat them if they’re disguised thoroughly enough, you”re good sports. I admire that. But you do not love Brussels sprouts. I am WILD for Brussels sprouts. I could eat them every day. So believe me when I tell you I take my Brussels sprouts recipes seriously.
I would have scoffed if you had said a month ago that I would find a recipe to rival my go-to Roast Brussels Sprouts. But this one really does. They’re neck and neck. This recipe even gets some extra points for using the stovetop, which can be handy at the holidays, when the demand for oven space exceeds the supply at our house.
I was suspicious of this recipe at first. For one thing, 30 minutes sounds like plenty enough time to ruin a perfectly good Brussels sprout. I worried it would be mushy, which would be unforgivable. I was also put off by the sheer amount of cream. That’s a lot of cream. I like rich food, but it sounded like a bit much, even for me.
But don’t be put off! This dish is not heavy. Not a bit. It positively floats on the tongue. It’s hard to believe it has all that cream in it. Some sort of alchemy takes place between the Brussels sprouts and the cream when they simmer together for a long time. They are both better for it.
As for texture, these Brussels sprouts are not the least bit mushy. The silky texture is divine. They taste mellow, and nutty, and green. They have less bite than some Brussels sprouts, but not less flavor. The lemon adds exactly the right amount of tang. They are truly very hard to stop eating. Guard your portion with care. Wrap your arm around it, hunker down, and poke your fork at would-be sprout snatchers. Some things in life are worth fighting for.
Give braised Brussels sprouts a test run before the holidays. Guaranteed you’ll end up adding it to a menu or two. This recipe comes from All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking, by Molly Stevens. It”s a book after my own heart, what with ”uncomplicated” being right there in the title and all. Everything I”ve made from it so far has been a winner.
CREAMY BRAISED BRUSSELS SPROUTS
makes four generous servings
1 ¼ pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved (small ones) or quartered (big ones)
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup heavy cream
half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Add Brussels sprouts, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally (not too much, they need to brown a little), for about five minutes.
Add cream. Stir, cover pan, and reduce heat to very low. The liquid should barely be simmering. Cook for about 30 minutes. The cream will reduce some and turn a “fawn color.” (Molly Stevens’ description. I love it.) The Brussels sprouts should be tender enough to pierce easily with the tip of a sharp knife.
Add a generous squeeze of lemon, and salt and pepper to taste.
P.S. If you are inspired to do a side-by-side taste test, here’s the recipe for the also-mighty-fine Roasted Brussels Sprouts:
Toss two pounds of halved (or quartered) Brussels sprouts with salt and pepper, two tablespoons of olive oil, two cloves of garlic (minced) and six ounces of chopped pancetta or thick bacon. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and roast at 450 degrees for about fifteen minutes, stirring a couple times. Drizzle with two tablespoons balsamic vinegar.