What it is: Fresh sprouts in a ready-to-steam bag
Bonnie: My childhood favorite veggies weren’t peas or carrots, but asparagus and Brussels sprouts. Odd selections for a child when I was growing up. In fact, at summer camp, I recall being one of the only campers who enjoyed vegetables on parents’ day — as they served my favorites to please (or was it impress!) those paying for camp.
That love affair has continued. Asparagus has always been in the limelight, and I’m glad to find that my favorite leafy green, mini cabbages now frequent restaurant menus. (For one, see today’s posted recipe for Bucatini with Brussels Sprouts, from Corkbuzz, NYC.)
Mann’s has made your cooking of these cruciferous vegetables easy with this new ready-to-microwave pouch. There’s nothing in these packaged Brussels sprouts except sprouts! Just pop the package into your microwave and heat for about three minutes to steam the sprouts.
They’re nutritious, as are most veggies. These mini cabbages are a good source of vitamin A, an excellent source of vitamin C, have some vitamin K and antioxidants, and supply 4 percent of the daily value of calcium and 6 percent of iron.
Enjoy them simply steamed from the bag or add to salads or stir-fries. I often halve the sprouts to oven-roast, grill or sauté; or I shred them for salads.
One simple Brussels sprout-preparation method, whether you remove them from the bag or buy them by the pound: Halve the sprouts through the core and place cut-side down (as much as possible) in a large skillet where you’ve heated a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. (Be careful, as the oil is hot!) Season with freshly ground pepper and salt, cover and cook for three-to-four minutes. Add a tablespoon or two of water, re-cover and cook a couple minutes more. Remove cover, increase heat slightly, stir and cook until the sprouts begin to brown (caramelize), drizzle with the juice of half a lemon and serve. Simply delicious.
Bryan: Brussels sprouts are one of those very odd vegetables that draw very serious and very hardened positional statements from food lovers everywhere. The Brussels sprout doesn’t seem to be a vegetable you “sort of” like. This is a vegetable that people seem either to love or hate. But what is it about the Brussels sprout that causes such divergent (and strong) sentiments? Well, as a Brussels sprout lover myself (and a keen observer of human behavior), I have been taking notes over the years about what people’s biggest gripes are about this oft-misunderstood veggie.
Summing up the litany of complaints I’ve heard about this wonderful food, the issues go something like this: They’re bland, they’re flavorless, they’re mushy, they taste like mini cabbages (apparently not a good thing). What I’ve realized in my countless “How can you not like Brussels sprouts?” interviews is that there appears to be at least one common denominator. Very few of those who dislike Brussels sprouts have ever (in my opinion) had them properly prepared. My first question to a Brussels sprout hater has become, “Okay, but how were they prepared?” The most common answer is always “steamed.” Ugh…
While steaming vegetables certainly has its merits (mainly, the health benefits of not adding any fats to the cooking process), it is NOT a cooking method that will impart a lot of flavor. Steaming lets a vegetable’s essence shine through, but many veggies need a bit of help to get them past the point of just being palatable and to the point of being truly sublime. To get there, you simply MUST roast your Brussels sprouts. Pan-frying, deep-frying and a few other crazy methods aside (I’m looking at you, sous vide), steaming is NOT the best method for this veggie and will never leave you with a mouth-watering end product.
Mann’s wonderful “steam-ready” packaging does allow for quick preparation in the microwave, but beware. While this is a great timesaver, it is not how to win over Brussels-sprout haters. I will now describe MY method of cooking Brussels sprouts. I would call it a recipe, but it’s not; it’s more of a process and there are no quantities listed. So, play with it and start to enjoy your Brussels sprouts, because when prepared correctly, there is no better side dish!
Though the Mann’s packaging says you can steam it right in the bag, ignore this and rip it open. This company produces wonderful sprouts and there is no need to ruin them by steaming them alone in plastic. Get out a cutting board and a sharp knife and get ready to cook!
Start to prepare your sprouts. I like to nip a little bit off the bottom, cutting off a little bit of the part where the sprout attached to the stem (this tends to be a little chewy). Once removed, halve your sprouts lengthwise and place them in a baking dish. Once you’ve prepared a bag (or two), drizzle them with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast them in a 400-degree oven. Set the timer for 15 minutes and walk away. When the timer goes off, come back and give the sprouts a stir, add a little more salt and pepper, some garlic powder and a bit of smoked paprika. Toss again and put back in the oven for another 15 minutes. On your next check, drizzle a bit of truffle oil over the sprouts and add a bit of chopped garlic (one-to-two cloves). Place back in the oven for 15 minutes. On your next check, do a bit more truffle oil and also drizzle a spoonful of honey over the sprouts. Let roast an additional 10 minutes. At this point, you’re close. Taste one. See what it tastes like. (ALWAYS TASTE YOUR FOOD!) If you like it, take it out. If you want it a bit more caramelized, let it go another 10 minutes. Remember, baking is a science, but cooking is an art… so experiment!
Mann’s has been at this since the 1930s and the company’s dedication to quality really shows in its sprouts. Try them and try my “method,” as it has become one of my absolute favorite dishes. Every time I cook sprouts, I end up making more and more, thinking there’ll be leftovers. There never are.
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