The smell of steaming or boiling Brussels sprouts is anathema to any sort of mouthwatering Pavlovian response. When I was a kid and my mother made Brussels sprouts (or anything cabbage-related), I'd avoid the smell by staying in my room with the door closed. Self-imposed exile was the lesser evil. The longer the Brussels sprouts cooked, the slinkier and soggier they got.
There's more than one way to cook a mini cabbage, so I'd like to assure you that my later-in-life like-affair with Brussels sprouts has nothing to do with the way anyone's old-school mom made them. I roast Brussels sprouts in a HOT oven to impart what I like to call "brown" flavors. A French fry is brown; mashed potatoes are not. Grilled salmon is brown; poached salmon is not. Boiling or steaming Brussels sprouts ensures that they'll reek (and taste) of sulfur, which is yellow. Nix the moist/wet cooking methods and preheat your oven so you can make roasty-brown B-Sprouts.
Two recipes after the Jump...
Clean and trim your Brussels sprouts by peeling away any loose or ragged leaves and paring enough from the bottom so that it's pale white. Then quarter your Brussels sprouts. Smaller pieces will give you more of that brown flavor. When you toss a whole Brussels sprout in olive oil the oil runs off. When they're quartered some of the oil, as well as salt and pepper, gets in between the leaves and adds a lot of flavor.
Cook your Brussels sprouts in a shallow pan that's big enough to spread them out into an even inch-deep layer. If you pile them deep they'll stew in their own juices (which is steaming, and that's stinky).
Brussels sprouts, olive oil, and salt and pepper are the foundation for both versions of B-S recipes that follow. I've made two options to illustrate how the recipe is really a template.
Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Cheddar is a hefty side dish (or a simple vegetarian meal). The apples add both sweetness and when cooked a soft texture to contrast with the firmness of the Brussels sprouts. The cheddar adds richness and depth.
Brussels Sprouts with Ham and Cashews is an easy one-pan dinner. Bacon is often paired with B-S recipes. I opted for ham because I wanted a meaty recipe that could serve as an entrée or a side. The ham is tossed in the olive oil along with the B-S and it gets brown and crispy like the meaty part of thick cut bacon.
Last, simplest, but certainly not least, is the option of drizzling your roasted Brussels sprouts with a little maple syrup. Roasted Brussels sprouts with a little maple syrup are just like candy...
Andy Broder is the chef/owner of AndyFood, A Culinary Studio.