I had an interesting conversation on facebook last week, about the fact that my boys love to eat brussels sprouts. I had many comments of surprise, a few compliments from people who had tried my sprouts before and a request for a recipe that would avoid producing a pan full of “slime balls”. So here goes.
But first, I believe brussels sprouts have a bad reputation. Growing up, if I ever read a book about a child hating to eat his veggies, it always seemed to involve brussels sprouts, or lima beans. Therefore, I grew up with an enormous aversion to them, even though my mother never once tried to get me to eat either. In fact, I never knew anyone who ate sprouts, and such still might be the case if it weren’t for one of my sisters. She returned home from foreign lands, where brussels sprouts apparently had less of a social stigma, and served them for dinner one night. I was a little repulsed by the little mini cabbage heads, but decided to be mature about it and give one a try.
I can’t say that my life was forever changed at that moment, but the old childhood dread was overcome. I was willing to learn more about this new (to me) veggie, with it’s slightly bitter edge and pungent flavor.
I think my sister sautéed her sprouts on the stove that night, but I, who am a fan of the Pioneer Woman Cooks, liked her method of preparing them a little better (no offense sis!)
I think the key to avoiding slime balls is to avoid water at all costs. Do not boil them, do not steam them, and do not, (as the packaging suggests) microwave them in the plastic bag they came in!
Now there are two ways I do this, but they both involve roasting. Turn your oven up nice and high- about 450 degrees.
If I am short on time, I will toss them in olive oil (2-3 Tablespoons per pound) and a generous sprinkling of salt, which is very good. But there is a slightly tastier way that involves -you guessed it- bacon.
I used about 5 slices of chopped, thick cut bacon here.
Get that cooking while you prep your sprouts. You will sometimes find, in a bag of sprouts, that they vary in size, like this.
So for even cooking, I usually cut the bigger ones in half, and place them all on a rimmed baking sheet. I went ahead and used the whole two pound bag here, since we eat them like candy (and since we are leaving town and I don’t want to come back to a rotten bag of sprouts in the bottom of my fridge).
While they are in there, let me just say that roasting vegetables has become the number one preferred method of veggie preparation around here. If I can’t convince you to try sprouts, then next time you want broccoli, or cauliflower, or green beans or asparagus, just toss the chopped veggies in olive oil and salt and roast away. The heat brings out the natural sweetness in the veggies and gives them a far better flavor than steamed or boiled. I have even had success with roasted wedges of cabbage. My kids love it all! But I must say that frozen veggies do not come out nearly as well with this method, so stick to fresh.
After about fifteen minutes, they will be starting to get brown. Go ahead and stir them up a bit.
This is when the boys start wandering towards the kitchen, sniffing expectantly.
Throw them in a bowl and serve as is, or sprinkle with your reserved bacon bits.
And since it is Christmas time, try a few dried cranberries on top.