The Book Vegetables

42. Pan-Browned Brussels Sprouts p.526

the recipe

A while back I mentioned that I’d think about opening a restaurant that specializes in helping adults overcome their childhood food traumas. Brussels sprouts will feature prominently on the menu. This preparation is the perfect reintroduction to this maligned vegetable. Boiled or steamed they can be fairly one-note bitter, and overcooked they have that sulfurous stink that’s so common in foods kids hate. Here they’re prepared simply with garlic and pine nuts in a bit of butter and olive oil. The garlic, and the nutty flavours of the browned butter, and pine nuts compliment the sprouts beautifully. The presentation is dramatic and very attractive, and the sprouts end up crisp, lively, and just cooked through. My dining companion and I made twice as much as we thought we’d eat, but polished the whole plate off.

I liked these so much I made them for the boys on one of our weekend getaways. That experience emphasized how important a heavy bottomed pan, and careful heat management are to getting this recipe right. Using a flimsy non sitck, on an unfamiliar stove I managed to leave half of them mostly raw on the inside, the other half overdone and all of them unappealingly blackened on the bottom.

That said this is still far and away my favorite Brussels sprouts preparation. As long as you can maintain low even heat the sprouts get caramelized on the bottoms, and perfectly cooked though. This recipe is ideally balanced; it manages to show off everything that is great about Brussels sprouts, and deftly avoids their weaknesses.

Pan-browned Brussels sprouts, you’ve earned your 5 mushroom rating.