08 October 2006
An Inconsolable Brussel Sprout
I thought that I was doing my little brussel sprout buddy a favor by letting the cats play with him instead of cooking him for dinner.
But when I braised all of his friends to make Molly Stevens’ creamy braised brussel sprouts recipe, he crumpled against the wall and sat there for hours with his head in his hands, wailing and wailing and wailing. If you have never heard a brussel sprout wail before, it really is quite adorable, more like a blind, six-day-old kitten than a distraught vegetable.
Even though I thought his howling was quite charming, he was still making me feel guilty. Nothing I could say would comfort him. He kept muttering something about the good old days at the market, sitting out in the morning sun with his pals, daring each other to roll out of the barrel and go make out with the green beans.
I tried to tell him that if he had gone into the pot, he would have been eaten by now, or even worse, cold leftovers in the fridge. He said he would rather have been sacrificed for the good of dinner along with his friends than be cast to the floor as a plaything for the smelly cats.
I thought some ice cream would cheer him up, so I went to the store and bought him a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Napoleon Dynamite ((((off the subject: that flavor is pure genius – half Cherry Garcia and half Chocolate Fudge Brownie, split right down the middle, can life get any better?)))).
Things were looking better when he ate the entire pint in one sitting, however, when he was done, he just sat there sniffling dejectedly and wouldn’t come out.
I decided he really did need some time alone, so I left the house on the pretense of errands. When I came back, he had drunk himself into oblivion on my last bottle of Oregon wine and passed out. That little monster, why did he have to go and drink my good wine?
Since he was unconscious anyway, and I was bitter, I stomped over to the fridge and took out the leftover braised brussel sprouts. I reheated them, sat down at the table, sighed, and let their creamy goodness soothe my bitter soul as I flipped through a Zingerman's catalog. I was slipping into such a delightful reverie that I did not notice my inebriated brussel sprout friend climb out of the wine glass and crawl over to the window.
I heard a faint sob, and before I could stuff the last sprout in my mouth and dash over to the window, he was gone.
Well, there was nothing I could do.
Time for some more brussel sprouts.
Creamy Braised Brussel Sprouts
(you don’t even need a Dutch Oven!)
~ adapted from All About Braising by Molly Stevens
1 pound brussel sprouts
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt & pepper
1 cup half & half (Molly recommends heavy cream but I didn’t have any and they still turned out utterly divine)
Trim the base of each sprout and peel off any ragged outer leaves.
Cut the brussel sprouts through the core into half. Slice each half into either thirds or halves so that you are left with little wedges no more than 1/2” across.
Over medium-high heat, melt butter in a 12” skillet that has a lid.
Brown the brussel sprouts in the butter for about 5 minutes, until there are brown spots on the sprouts.
Pour in the half & half (or cream, if using), stir, cover, reduce heat to a slow simmer, and cook for 30 to 35 minutes.
Remove the cover, squeeze the lemon juice into the sprouts, and simmer, uncovered, for a few minutes so the cream thickens and turns into a beautiful glaze.
Serve hot or warm.
Molly recommends adding toasted hazelnuts or crisp bits of bacon for a fancier presentation.