How to Make Brussels Sprouts Taste Better
The question of how to make Brussels sprouts tastier has plagued cooks for years. And it doesn't just apply to getting the kids to eat them. Many adults can't be convinced to eat Brussels sprouts either.
The first key is in cooking them correctly; overcooked sprouts are the likely cause of most people's dislike of these fairy cabbages. But there are other ways of making them taste more appealing, too.
The Right Way to Cook
Overcooking Brussels sprouts makes them much more bitter and less palatable, so it's important to learn how to cook them right before we look at the steps of adding extra tastiness.
Cut an X into the bottom of each sprout, or cut them into halves if they are quite big. The leaves cook more quickly than the core so this step gets them to cook more evenly. Either boil or steam them for 7-10 minutes. Take them off the heat and drain them before they lose their bright green color. Once they start to turn grey/green, they're overcooked.
Stir Fried Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta
Following the method above, cook 2 pounds of Brussels sprouts, but only for 3 minutes. Then, put them into ice water immediately to stop the cooking. Sauté 3-4 ounces of pancetta strips with light olive oil in a large pan. When the pancetta starts to crisp, put the Brussels sprouts into the pan and stir-fry the lot for 2-3 minutes.
Bubble & Squeak Potato Cakes
Boil 2 pounds of potatoes until tender and then leave them to drain and dry out a little, before mashing up with some butter. Cook 1 pound of Brussels sprouts using our method above, but for only 3 minutes, and then plunge them into cool water. Drain and finely shred the sprouts with a sharp knife. Add the sprouts to the mashed potatoes and throw in a handful of cheese, too. Mix it all in, and once cool enough, shape into 8 patties. Shallow fry for 2 minutes on each side. This is especially popular with kids.
Braised Brussels Sprouts with Cream
Cut 1 pound of Brussels sprouts into fours to create mini wedges. Stir fry them in butter (we're adding cream, so we may as well use butter!) for about 5 minutes or until they have a good color. Add 1 cup of heavy cream to the same pan, stir, and cover. Leave it on a medium to low heat for about 30 minutes on a gentle simmer. Test with a fork to see if the sprouts are tender, and give them a further 5 minutes if needed. Add a splash of lemon juice and some salt, then leave on the heat uncovered for a couple more minutes for the cream to thicken a little—the cream will loosely coat the mini cabbage wedges.
If none of these ideas have convinced you, you can also try adding chopped nuts like chestnuts and hazelnuts to the finished dish. Or, splash on a little marsala wine for some added dressing power. To add texture as well as taste, try mixing in some Parmesan breadcrumbs.