Thanksgiving Side Dishes – The noble Brussels sprout

Sprout photo, from of

I always remember liking Brussels sprouts, even with the slightly bitter taste they sometimes have. (Aside: I learned in biology class that I am a “non-taster” so while I can ascertain that something is bitter, it’s no biggie. Helpful for eating older dandelion greens, and drinking bitter green tea, which might torture a “super-taster”).

For the past few  years, I have made Brussels sprouts part of the Thanksgiving feast, and I’ve made them delectable even to the Sprout Doubters. Including kids!

There are several options:

1) If you’re already making a bunch of food, do you have open range space, or oven space? I have a method for either. For the range, you take each sprout, cut of the dried-out stalk end, and then slice it into ribbons. Am I describing that right? Slice it up, into about 1/8th inch width slices.  Use your biggest frying pan, and warm butter, olive oil, coconut oil, or a blend, in your pan.  How much? A couple of tablespoons, maybe? Make sure the oil covers the whole bottom of the pan, and add all your chopped sprouts (alternatively, toss the sprouts in your oil, and add them to the pan). You’ll be tempted to stir and turn them, but if you just let them set and start to get a little browned, it will add great flavor.  Grind some black pepper over them. When they’re browned enough, turn them/stir them, and let them brown again, and add another round of black pepper.  They’re done when they’ve reached the desired tenderness. Note that they’ll continue to cook/wilt for a bit after you take them from the pan, so stop early if you like your veggies more al dente. I finish them off with sea salt.

2) An even easier method, for the oven, is to cut off the dry stalk end, then just slice the sprouts in half from stalk to head.  Toss them in olive oil, and spread on a baking sheet, and pepper them. Bake them at 375, and finish with broiling to crisp up the outer leaves of these little cabbages.  I don’t have a set time… just keep an eye on them.  Finish with sea salt.  I’ve also just broiled them, but it’s easier to burn them with that method.

3) My cousin does a wonderful creamed sprout recipe. I always say I want her recipe, and forget to get it from her.  Anyway, “Creamed” is not going to be dairy-free, but I suppose by using butter and cream from pasture-raised cows, this could be made reasonably or quasi-paleo.  Find any “cream sauce” recipe, and sub in your high-quality, grass-fed dairy products.  If the recipe calls for flour, find another recipe.  I just found a recipe for creamed spinach that calls for 2 tbs. butter, 1/2 cup heavy cream, plus shallots, garlic, nutmeg, and black pepper. Steam the spouts, and toss them in the cream sauce. Doesn’t that sound great?!

4) To get kids to try them, just tell them they’re little baby cabbages, or, if you have trouble lying, just say they’re “like” baby cabbages. For some reason, something called “baby cabbages” are totally edible to kids, but “Brussels sprouts” are gross and inedible.

Any other sprout recipes you’ve tried and liked?

UPDATE:  I am not the only person with Brussels sprouts on my mind! I just found this recent post with a great-sounding recipe, and nice photos!


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