November 26, 2009

Brussels spouts: what's the big deal?

I'ver never really liked brussels sprouts that much until recently. Husband likes them, so I've experimented with them and finally hit on a style of cooking them that I like: caramelized  in oil and buttter until they are dark and crisp. I got to thinking about how they are such an autumn vegetable, associated with Thanksgiving and other holiday repasts when chef Jonathan Waxman (who really knows how to cook the little sprouts) recently outlined his Barbuto Thanksgiving menu for me. He says he's had some of the best brussels sprouts of his life in the Haut-Savoie region of France. Food historian Alan Davidson says the mini cabbage heads popped up in French and English gardens only at the end of the 18th century and a little later in North America. I recently tried and liked this method of cooking the bittersweet balls, chef David Shea's version, carmelized with bacon, butter and lemon. Davidson says they are traditionally cooked with roasted chestnuts in Belgium, so that's next!