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Misunderstood veggie can be delicious — if cooked correctly

By Maura Wery

I’m going to play devil’s advocate for a second: I love Brussels sprouts.

I don’t understand why they get such a bad reputation.

Well, actually, on second thought, I do get why people aren’t so fond of the small cabbages. It’s because they are the most botched food item ever to come across kitchen tables.

My grandparents all adored Brussels sprouts, and as a child I was subjected to eating the mushy, oddly discolored green vegetables that they prepared for me.

Needless to say, I was completely turned off.  But as I grew older, a sort of renaissance came around for the vegetable, because chefs began to figure out that they are very versatile (either raw or cooked) and very in-season during the fall.

About a year ago, I caught an episode of the NPR radio blog “The Kitchen Window,” which features personal stories from food writers about recreating and revamping certain dishes, and the show was about Brussels sprouts.

In the article, the author talked about his dismay for how the vegetable was treated.

Hear, hear, dear author!

I concur.

Really, the best way to eat Brussels sprouts is to cook them with bacon or in bacon fat. I prefer either to cook them on the stovetop or roasted in the oven – and for the love of everything, please don’t boil them.

Boiling vegetables should be some kind of human rights violation.

First off, texture. Second, all the nutrients in vegetables leave them when you boil them, so double loss.

My preferred method is rendering the fat from a few strips of bacon in a pan, tossing in the halved Brussels sprouts and hitting a lid on the whole thing.

I stir them occasionally, but not too much. What happens is practically kitchen witchcraft – the sprouts are steamed under the lid but also get a bit of caramelization from the bacon fat.

Add a little salt, pepper and… voila! You have a delicious sweet and salty side dish.

Another way to make these little suckers a dream dish is to roast them in the oven.

News editor Megan Moser suggests roasting with bacon in the oven. I like coating mine in balsamic vinegar and olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic.

Put them in a 400-degree oven for around 30 minutes and you will have some sweet, tart and tasty bites.

You could call me a renaissance woman, but I’ll always defend these little guys.

Sometimes veggies get a bad name for good reason, but with proper cooking technique, Brussels sprouts can make a regular and welcome addition to the table.

Sauteed Brussel sprouts

 

Ingredients

1/2 pound of brussel sprouts, cleaned and halved

4-6 strips of bacon, cut into lardons

1/2 tablespoon of butter

salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions

Cook bacon until crispy, remove from fat and drain.

 

Add brussel sprouts to fat and cover pan with lid.Toss around a few times for about 15 to 20 minutes

 

Take off heat and stir back in bacon.









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