Brussels sprouts have a bad rap.
Every time I buy them, someone asks me how I cook them. When I tell them, their expression goes from something you might expect from someone talking about being dosed with Castor Oil to a look of interest.
Everytime I make them for someone who doesn’t live with me, I have to convince them to take a taste. They usually do with their nose scrunched and their eyes closed.
And then their eyes pop open and they make this little moan in the back of their throat as they chew. That’s the best!
These mini little cabbages are fall and winter crops. In the winter especially, they are sweet and have an amazing flavor. Like cabbages, Brussels sprouts get sweeter after being kissed by frost.
I just realized today that eating in season means I won’t be able to eat Brussels sprouts in the late spring and early summer.
That was even more upsetting than realizing I can’t eat a fresh tomato until summer.
In my house, there is only one way to cook Brussels sprouts. And when I make them, my husband and kids fight over who gets the last sweet little morsel. We ate them tonight with slow cooker baby back ribs (holy cow…this recipe is coming. It was AMAZING. Good Grubbing…that’s what we called food like this when I was growing up) and broiled potatoes.
Maple Walnut Brussels Sprouts
- 1 1/2 pounds of Brussels Sprouts (the smaller the better)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 T olive oil
- 1/4 cup walnut pieces
- 4 T maple syrup
- salt and pepper to taste
Brussels sprouts take a little work. Each little baby cabbage head needs to have the stem end trimmed before it’s cut in half vertically. The top couple of leaves will come off on their own, which is fine. Discard those. Just keep trimming and cutting, filling up a bowl as you do.
While all that prep is going on, start the oil heating up over medium high heat in a big pan. You want the pan nice and hot when you put the sprouts in.
Stand back when you put the sprouts in the hot oil. They’ll pop some, and sizzle. Add the garlic too, and toss to coat the sprouts.
Let the sprouts cook for a while. You want the heat high so that they’ll carmelize farily quickly. It’s overcooking that releases the sulfery stuff in cabbage and sprouts. After about 10 minutes, they should be a nice deep brown.
(In this picture, they’ve been cooking about five minutes.)
Add the walnuts and toss around. Cook another two or three minutes, then finish with the maple syrup. I reccomend using the good stuff if you can afford it, but I’ve made it with cheap store-brand maple-flavored syrup and it’s still scrumptious. Real maple syrup just does something special here.
Toss again and turn the heat off. I usually let things sit for about 10 minutes before serving. This lets the syrup meld with the rest of the flavors, and allows the hot sugar to cool. I personally like Brussels sprouts just warm, not too hot.
Hold your nose and take a bite. You won’t be sorry!