Here’s how Saturday got started. I blame the Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Lemon.
- Big Breakfast Adventure!
- Freshly mowed lawn – thanks, Becky the Greek!
- Clean dishes, clean kitchen, pot of If-It’s-Green-It’s-Going-In Soup on the stove.
- Peaceful, happy moments all over the place.
- ♥ life. LOVE.
I am convinced I woke up feeling the love partly because of my rendezvous with a pound of Brussels Sprouts last night. I’ve always loved Brussels Sprouts. The sight of those tiny, bright green, tightly bound little cabbages instantly transports me back to Christmas Dinners in England when I was a child. We ate Brussels Sprouts when my mother decided that we would, but they were always there on the menu at Christmas. Always. Somehow, they tasted better on Christmas Day than any other day of the year.
My mother was good at what she cooked, and she was good at the basics, but she was not a creative cook. Growing up during World War II meant the food that she ate and learned how to cook was basic. Food was a necessity, not particularly something to be glorified or even enjoyed. Many of us are truly spoiled in the variety and quantity of food we have at our disposal. I cannot imagine what it would be like to live with food rationing. I am extremely grateful to those who serve in order for us to have the lives we do.
When my mother served up Brussels Sprouts they were simply simmered in water until they were tender. My mother was very good at not over-cooking veggies, so her Brussel Sprouts were not watery, soggy piles of greenery – they were tender and flavorful; but they were just plain Brussels Sprouts. I’ve heard it tell that an awful lot of people have never experienced a tender-crisp Brussels Sprout – only tasteless, mushy ones – so it’s no surprise that so many folks turn up their nose at the humble Sprout. I’ve also noticed that the variety of Sprouts grown in the US are rather more bitter than the ones grown in England. I have a suspicion that there might be a lot more Brussels Sprouts being devoured if a sweeter variety were grown stateside.
I often got the job of trimming off the outer leaves of the Sprouts and cutting an ‘X’ in the core at the bottom. My mother could never explain why she did this, but that was typical of my mother. “Because I said so”, was a commonly heard phrase in our house. I giggle that it extended to the preparation of Brussels Sprouts, but I guess for some, old habits die hard. My mother has a tendency for habits, and doing things just because it’s the way things have always been done. That’s one trait I did not inherit from her.
For reasons that I never really cared to examine, I loved ‘doing the Sprouts’, and I always volunteered if I wandered into the kitchen on a Sunday and spied a brown paper bag of Brussels on the counter. My mother shopped at a local greengrocer and everything was weighed into little brown paper bags on a large silver scale. Those brown paper bags were so much warmer and friendlier than plastic, I always thought.
I was fully ready for Justin the Geek, and possibly Becky the Greek, to eat just one little Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Lemon, swallow hard and breathe a sigh of relief that the sucker had made it past their taste buds without them gagging. I was waiting for the cheer after the first one went down. The cheer never came. Would you believe it? Justin the Geek immediately added “Brussels Sprouts” to the list of veggies he likes. First cabbage, now Brussels Sprouts. Do you cook for people who think Sprouts are from the devil? Try these Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Lemon – there’s hope! I think Justin needs further persuading in the beets department, but I’m working on that. I can’t bear the thought of him living a beets-free life. That would be terrible.
Although this recipe is very simple it does a surprising job of transforming Brussels into something rather grand. Justin declared them to be, “Delicious!” Good news from a former Sprout detractor.
I dished the Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Lemon up alongside Roast Chicken with Wild Mushrooms, but I can think of hundreds of meals that these beautiful little green Brassica would complement. Sprouts are quite gorgeous in their bright green livery. Along with a Celery and Cucumber Salad with Herbs, this is one delicious meal. We all commented, after the plates were bare and the chairs pushed back from the table, how it was brilliant to eat so much food and yet not feel like a hippo afterwards. Because that’s what a sane lifestyle does for you.
Long live Brussels Sprouts!
- 1 lb / 450g baby Brussels Sprouts, outer leaves trimmed, halved lengthwise
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 2 TBSP coconut oil
- 2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
- Place the sprouts and 1/2 cup water in a skillet; season with salt and pepper.
- Bring sprouts to a simmer over medium heat and then cover; If your skillet does not have a lid, use a cookie sheet to cover.
- Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the water has evaporated and sprouts are crisp-tender, about 6 minutes. If skillet becomes dry before sprouts are done add 1/4 cup more water.
- Increase heat to medium-high and add coconut oil to skillet.
- Continue to cook, uncovered and without stirring, until sprouts are golden brown on underside, about 6 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice.
- Turn into serving dish and season with salt and pepper.