For the love of Brussels sprouts

Uncooked Brussels sprouts

For most of my life, I didn’t love Brussels sprouts. Smelly, I thought. Bitter tasting. I never really gave them a chance, even though they were frequently put right in front of me. I swear that at every single family event/potluck dinner I attended with my mother she would bring marinated Brussel’s sprouts. I wouldn’t go near them. I’m sure it’s because before then, I’d only tasted boiled (maybe overboiled) Brussels sprouts.

But here I am, now singing their praises. I can’t remember why, but one day not that long ago, they showed up on my plate and I thought “Be daring, Diane. Eat a Brussels sprout.” And voila, it didn’t taste so bad.

Ever since that fateful moment, I’ve dared to eat them many times. Roasted, steamed, sauteed, baked as chips. All tasted great. And I’ve seen Brussels sprouts on so-o-o many restaurant menus lately. Yup, I think they’re trending!

Whether you already love them or are willing to take a small bite, here’s a recipe I tried last night that came out pretty good. It’s from America’s Test Kitchen.

Maple-Glazed Brussels Sprouts

Serves 8 to 10 (I cut the recipe about in half)

Ingredients

  • 4 TBS unsalted butter (If you’re trying to avoid saturated fats, here’s an article about butter substitutes.
  • 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved (cut through the stem and remove tough outer leaves)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 TBS maple syrup
  • 1 tsp minced fresh thyme
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 tsp cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Braised Brussels sprouts

Instructions

  1. Melt 2 TBS of butter or substitute in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add Brussels Sprouts and cook until browned, about 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the broth, 1 TBS maple syrup, thyme, and cayenne and cook over medium-low heat, covered, until sprouts are nearly tender, another 6-8 minutes.
  2. Uncover and increase heat to medium-high. Cook until liquid is nearly evaporated, about 5 minutes. Take skillet off the heat and stir in vinegar, remaining 2TBS of butter, and remaining 1 TBS maple syrup. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Maple Glazed Brussels Sprouts

This recipe was fairly easy to make but I think it’s really important to keep a close eye on your Brussels sprouts during the first two steps. Don’t let them burn when they’re browning and be careful the liquid doesn’t evaporate too quickly.

Things I’ve learned about Brussels sprouts

  • They tend to taste bitter and smell bad if they’ve been cooked, especially boiled, for too long. That’s thanks to a sulfur-containing phytochemical called glucosinolate.
  • It’s believed they were first widely cultivated in the 16th century in Brussels, Belgium. Hence, their name.
  • They are in the Brassica oleracea family of cruciferous vegetables. Other vegetables in the family include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and collard greens.
  • They’re sometimes called mini cabbages.
  • They’re rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate, Carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin), Fiber.
  • Lots of people claim to hate Brussels sprouts, but I think it’s all in how you cook them. Sorry, Mom.

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Diane Atwood

About Diane Atwood

For more than 20 years, Diane was the health reporter on WCSH 6. Before that, a radiation therapist at Maine Medical Center and after, Manager of Marketing/PR at Mercy Hospital. She now hosts and produces the Catching Health podcast and writes the award-winning blog Catching Health with Diane Atwood.