Unfussy Fare

Creamy Braised Brussels Sprouts

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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.

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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.

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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.

8 Responses to “Creamy Braised Brussels Sprouts”

  1. Pam Rokke says:

    I was about to oomplain that you needed to tell us how to braise them, too, but then you did. Thanks!

  2. Pam Rokke says:

    complain, not oomplain. But you probably knew that.

  3. Gillian says:

    Please file all oomplaints with the oomplaint department. Regards, The Administration

  4. Pamela Perry says:

    I”ve tried this recipe twice now. I don’t bother protecting my plate … rather focusing all of my energies on stealing the sprouts off someone else’s. Well worth the risk of getting ‘forked’.

  5. Gillian says:

    I’m glad to hear you’ve assumed an offensive posture, Pamela. Looks like you won’t be the one getting “forked” in your house.

  6. hungry dog says:

    These sound delicious. I could use a new method for brussels sprouts–I tend to make them similar to your original recipe. But a little (or a lot?) of cream sounds like a great idea!

  7. Gillian says:

    Yeah. A CUP of cream. I don’t believe I’ve ever made a recipe that called for an entire cup of cream. But this one is delectable. Enjoy!

  8. sarah says:

    Wow, you might make a brussel lover out of me yet! I’ve only tasted ineptitude and overcooking in the brussel dishes I have had, and now I realize that it was probably the cook and not the veggie that was at fault. As always, I can’t wait to taste your delicious food! Keep going, girl!
    And congrats on the blog award!

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