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Brussels Sprouts ©

February 3, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

Most peoples’ reaction to Brussels Sprouts is, ‘Oh no those awful things,” memories of ‘Boarding School’ and badly cooked English food, in times gone by…….so it is for this reason that I have chosen today, to give them a special mention, because if cooked correctly, they are simply delicious!

When I was young growing up in Greece, I never had to try these so called, ‘awful English vegetables,’ but once I went to Boarding School, we always knew when they were on the menu, because you could smell them all the way down the corridor! Now believe it or not they were my Father’s most favorite, so when I used to fly home for the Christmas holidays, along with HP Sauce, Campbell’s Tomato Soup and Cox’s Orange Pippin Apples, were also, a large bag of, yes, “Brussels Sprouts!!!”

Now my father’s mother was a wonderful cook, so I was taught at an early age exactly how ‘Brussels Sprouts’ should be prepared and cooked and like everything my father did, it was with precision and gave an excellent result. We would sit down at the kitchen table, peel off the outer leaves, cut back ‘just a little’ of the stalk, make four cuts into the stalk to help the ‘even cooking’ process and when we were ready to eat them, plunged them into boiling salted water. No lid, so as to keep the lovely green color and cooked for between 5-8 minutes! Just like pasta, if over cooked, or left any time to stand around, they are ruined! Drained and placed in warmed bowl,with a very generous knob of butter, salt and freshly ground pepper, they were just delicious!

They were so good, we ate them piping hot as a meal and I still do, to this very day and even my vegetable loving daughter likes them! So  please never eat those sad, over-cooked yellow ones, that have been long waiting in stainless steel containers and are soft and  unappetizing and remember, test with a fork and the minute the fork can be pressed into the Brussels Sprout, they are ready even on Christmas day I boil them at the last minute! ( Choose a finely pointed fork!)

Brussels Sprouts grow in Northern Europe and England and the saying always was, that they need frost to grow at their best!

Having written this post, I just wanted to add this paragraph to say that this blog is about  ” learning how to cook well,” and this is why I am slowly adding all the procedures, which may seem obvious to some good cooks out there, but to my dearest beginners, I want you to learn correctly! Most people can cook, but few cook really well! Through my personally taken photographs I wish to show you not only how the taste matters, but the presentation too. When ever I see a messy dish which the cook has not cleaned up and the food is not immediately pleasing to the eye, it already puts my taste buds on alert!

 

Brussels Sprouts

Easy

 

8-10 Persons

 

Ingredients

1 kilo Brussels Sprouts ( nice and green, no yellow leaves)

25 g butter

salt and freshly ground black pepper

* Alternatives : Sautéed chestnuts in butter and a little salt and or grilled almond slivers.

1 vacuum pack of cleaned chestnuts. If you buy the ones with skins on, you need to boil them and it takes a lot of time to clean them!

3 tbs almond slivers. Brown under the grill, careful they brown very quickly, you need to watch over them!

 

Method

1. Buy nice green,firm fresh looking Brussels Sprouts. If they already have yellow leaves, they are not fresh.

2. Peel off  one or two layers of outer leaves, which are usually damaged, until you reach the perfect ones underneath.

3. Cut off as little as possible of the stalk, as it is nice to bite on the slightly firmer part and cut four lines, criss cross, just a little of the way in. See photograph.

4. Soak for a little while in water, so that they crisp up. Up to this point, you can prepare them ahead of time.  At Christmas for example, I do this the day before. I then pour away the water, cover with cling film and store in the fridge, until ready to use.

5. 15 minutes before serving, fill a saucepan 1/3 with salted water. The salt, brings out the chlorophyll, the nice green color! When it is rapidly boiling add your Brussels Sprouts and leave to simmer, lid off for 5-10 minutes, depending on their size. After five minutes, pierce with a fork, as soon as the fork enters relatively easily they are ready. This will take once or twice to get just right. They must be by no means soft! You should cut them with a knife. If they are soft like potato, you have over boiled them and this is usually their down-fall.

6. Drain in a colander, replace in saucepan, add a generous knob of butter, salt and freshly ground pepper, toss and serve.

7. As a change you may want to add lightly tossed chestnuts in butter, which you have sautéed in a small frying pan, and or lightly grilled almond slivers.

N.B. General rule : All vegetables grown “underground,” ( Potatoes Carrots etc,) go into cold water and are brought to the boil. All vegetables grown “over-ground,”  ( beans, courgette etc,) the water is brought to boiling first, and the vegetables are plunged in. All vegetables should be boiled in salted water , especially the green ones as this brings out the Chlorophyll green color and they should all be boiled with out the lid on. The condensation that forms under the lid, discolors the vegetables. For best green effect, refresh under cold running water, just for a second, re-heat in butter or olive oil very briefly in saucepan, tossing the vegetables lightly. All vegetables should be cooked in the minimum of water, so as not to lose the vitamins, the steam does the rest of the cooking and they should be cooked until crunchy, or just firm, with the exception of potatoes, where once they fall off a pointed knife, they are ready.

 

Brussels Sprouts

This is what you are aiming for.

Brussels Sprouts

Remove outer damaged leaves, one or two layers.

Brussels Sprouts

Cut back stalk just a little.

Brussels Sprouts

Press gently into stalk making four criss cross cuts.

Brussels Sprouts

…..like this.

Brussels Sprouts

Soak them in water for a little while to crisp up.

Brussels Sprouts

Having soaked for a little while they are ready for boiling.

Brussels Sprouts

If it is Christmas Eve, just cover with cling film and reserve until the next day. Cook 15 minutes before serving

to enjoy them at their best.

Brussels Sprouts

Plunge them into boiling water , bring back to the boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes depending on size,

test with a sharply pointed fork or tip of a knife. As soon as the fork can enter to the center of the Brussels

Sprout, they are ready. On average 8 minutes is perfect. They must not be soft!

Chestnuts

Optional suggestion, nice at Christmas: Adding Chestnuts and browned almond slivers.

These are ideal, when cooking with Chestnuts, they are fresh and above all ready cleaned! In case the only

ones that are available, are with their skins on, cut the skin vertically in 2-3 places and boil for half an hour.

Then proceed to peel them. It takes time!

Chestnuts

Place vacuum packed chestnuts, just before you want to use them, (otherwise they blacken) saute in a little

butter, sprinkle with salt and add to cooked Brussels Sprouts.

Roasted Almonds

Place almonds on baking tray and place under the grill for 2-3 minutes, shaking the tray so that they brown

on both sides. This happens very quickly, so I always stand over them while I am doing it, they burn in a

second!

Roasted Almonds

Yum!

Brussels Sprouts

Final result with chestnuts and almonds added.

 

 

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Lynn Markham Beebe permalink
    February 3, 2013 3:58 am

    Beautiful pictures as usual…..JUST can not eat Brussels Sprouts….delicacy that I know they are…..boo hiss-:( and with love…L

    Like

    • February 3, 2013 5:22 pm

      You are not the only one, don’t worry. It is like Marmite you either love it or hate it, that’s why I had to make sure, at least to cook them correctly and after that, it’s up to you. B.S. have been cooked so badly for so long that a whole generation has grown up, missing out on this wonderful vegetable! 😉

      Like

  2. jtaptas permalink
    February 3, 2013 3:59 pm

    I miss your food! I’m having pasta with ready made pesto ts ts ts

    Like

    • February 3, 2013 5:17 pm

      You will be home soon and I can make all your favorite things. Next post is for you ;)…….
      when fresh basil is in season you can make your very own with my recipe “Pasta al Pesto.” apla Pesto! hi hi xxx

      Like

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