Sometimes a reputation can ruin something before you've even tried it yourself. Brussel sprouts were that way with me. Chinese cuisine doesn't contain brussel sprouts, and the school cafeteria didn't serve it, so I didn't ever have to eat any. All I knew were that they were hated by kids and adults universally, one of those vegetables that were supposedly nutritious but unfortunately not delicious.
Oh how wrong I was. Brussel sprouts are not only delicious, they are surprisingly quick to prepare. However, I do agree that brussel sprouts incorrectly cooked are terrible: sulfurous, mushy, or crunchy and bitter.
I've finally fallen in love with brussel sprouts after figuring out the best way to prepare them: roasted, with smoky salty lardons or a touch of honey. The outer layers of the sprouts get crispy, almost like little chips, while the inside has a deep caramelized flavor that is earthy and slightly sweet. Plus, you also don't lose any of the nutrients like you will if you boil them.
After a little bit of experimenting, here are some super-simple ways to prepare these cute little green cabbages. As a tip, you want to make sure they're tender all the way through but not mushy, so the tip of a paring knife inserted in the thick core of the sprout should come out easily. Preheating the pan ensures that they get a blast of heat that will help them caramelize and crisp up.
Since I never measure anything when cooking them, here is an approximation of the amounts of ingredients I use (my Cook's Illustrated friends would be horrified!). The method is much more important anyway!
Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Lardons or Honey
You can use a roasting pan, cookie sheet, or ovensafe skillet. Just make sure it is heavy-duty one.
1/2 pound brussel sprouts of uniform size
1 Tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
2 slices of thick cut bacon, cut into lardon pieces
1 Tablespoon honey
- Preheat oven to 400 F. Place your pan into the oven to heat up.
- Trim off any stems from brussel sprouts. Cut each one in half, or if large, into quarters.
- In a medium bowl, toss sprouts with oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Carefully remove hot pan out of oven. Place brussel sprouts, cut-side down, onto pan. Sprinkle lardons, if using, around sprouts.
- Roast for 20-30 minutes, checking for doneness after 20 minutes. Sprouts are done when a paring knife inserted into the thicker core section comes out easily.
- If using honey, remove cooked brussel sprouts from the oven and transfer to a bowl. Drizzle honey over and toss to coat.