Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cream-Braised Brussels Sprouts

Another winner from Orangette.

Over the last few weeks, I've seen some recipes for Brussels sprouts pop up here and there. They all looked pretty good and I was intrigued, but not quite enough to make them. Why? Well ... I've never had them before.

Though I wish I could take credit for this photo, it's actually one I found at ProducePedia

No, I take that back. I might have had them once before, maybe at a buffet or something, because then I'd never had them before and wanted to know what they were like, since I'd grown up hearing all the horror stories of children being made to eat them against their will (I was obviously not one of them). They were completely forgettable. I mean, literally, after that one encounter I could not recall their taste or texture whatsoever. Obviously, I hadn't eaten the best example of what they could be, and didn't want to hold that against them, so I went about my business as if Brussels sprouts were still unknown to me.

What's odd is how impressions can stay with you, regardless of your personal experiences. Even though I love vegetables, and come from a family of vegetable lovers (though Brussels sprouts were apparently shunned), all the stuff I'd heard all my life about the terribleness of Brussels sprouts stayed with me, and I had no real desire to try them. I didn't hate them, but I didn't know them, and didn't really care if I knew them or not.

But then everyone started posting their pictures and recipes, and I became intrigued. What was this vegetable that I had never really tried? What if I loved it? What if I'd been missing out all these years, and never knew it, just because I let the Brussels sprout's reputation precede it?

So I decided to give it a try. And which recipe would I use? The one on Orangette, of course. I had loved her boiled kale with fried egg and toast so much that I felt fairly confident she would not lead me astray. Plus it involved heavy cream, and I don't think there's any recipe involving heavy cream that I don't like. :P

I tried it tonight as a side dish to some chili I was making (an odd combination, but then, I'm that way), and it was, indeed, a good, filling, flavorful dish. I don't think Brussels sprouts could ever replace broccoli as my favorite vegetable, but they were also nowhere near the awfulness I had secretly feared. I even like how they look -- like mini cabbages, and I love cabbage. I'm not sure if this will be the ultimate way for me to prepare Brussels sprouts I'll enjoy, but it sure was a good start. What I like best about it -- and what I enjoy about Orangette's recipes in general -- is its simplicity. Other than the sprouts and heavy cream, the recipe calls for salt and lemon juice. That's it.

I've also had my eye on an alfredo sauce that I was planning to use the heavy cream for -- but maybe now it'll just be tinged with a bit of beautiful green color! And instead of chicken or shrimp, it'll be topped with healthy Brussels sprouts. That's sure one way to rationalize eating fettucini alfredo!

Cream-Braised Brussels Sprouts - as found originally on Orangette

  • 1 ¼ lb. Brussels sprouts, stemmed and quartered
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ¼ tsp coarse sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice, or more to taste


  1. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the Brussels sprouts and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sprouts are nicely browned in spots, about 5 minutes.
  2. Pour in the cream, stir to mix, then cover the pot. Reduce the heat to low or medium low: you want to keep the pan at a slow simmer. Braise until the sprouts are tender enough to be pierced easily with the tip of a paring knife, about 30-35 minutes. The cream will have reduced some and will have taken on a creamy tan color.
  3. Remove the lid and stir in the lemon juice. Taste for seasoning, and adjust as necessary.
  4. Let the pan simmer, uncovered, for a minute or two to thicken the cream to a glaze that loosely coats the sprouts. Serve immediately.

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