I hated Brussels sprouts. I’m talking make me gag just thinking about trying to eat them kind of hate. They were a vile weed not fit for human consumption.
Then I met and married Outdoor Guy. And he loved the darn things. His family loved the darn things. They served them at holidays, for Pete’s sake, they were so revered. And so, in the interest of marital accord, I gave them another chance. I bought some frozen Brussels sprouts, boiled them according to the directions on the bag and served them to my newly betrothed feeling very proud of myself for falling on my sword in the name of love.
Two bites in, I about lost it. Choked down the first one, the surreptitiously fed the remaining four globs of green yuk to my dog. I finished the rest of my meal feeling very proud of myself for finding a way to feel noble about serving Brussels sprouts without having to actually eat any more of the Brussels sprouts.
“See, not that bad!” said Outdoor Guy, nodding at my empty plate.
“Yum-O!” I enthusiastically replied.
Then the dog threw up my Brussels sprouts all over the kitchen floor. The dog was not impressed with the Brussels sprouts. I was not impressed with my dog. Outdoor Guy was not impressed with me.
Damn. Damn. Damn.
Some years later, I started participating in a food co-op, making a weekly payment in return for a basket of mystery produce. And one week, it happened. There in my basket sat two pounds of Brussels sprouts, brightly and cheerfully wrapped up like a Christmas present gone horribly wrong. Their little heads shined brightly, sucking up all the air in the room. I hadn’t even so much as uttered their name since the great vegetable horking dog incident of 2010.
“Things just got interesting,” said Outdoor Guy with a smirk when he saw them.
So I took to my cookbooks and the web to find a way, ANY WAY, to cook Brussel sprouts that would make them taste less Brussel sprouty. Somewhere in the depths of the Internet I found a suggestion to simply chop them and sauteed them with some olive oil, bacon, garlic and shallots. Surely the bacon would help, right?
And I’ll be darned if I didn’t kind of like them prepared that way. Actually, I loved them. They were nutty and flavorful and robust. I had two helpings of vegetables and two helpings of grief served to me by my husband.
To this day, I will not eat boiled Brussels sprouts. But prepared any other way, they are one of my favorite vegetables. We probably eat them at least three times a month, more when they are in season and less expensive. But I always buy fresh ones and stick to sauteing or roasting. I have several different favorite methods of preparation and flavors. But the following recipe is the one that made me a convert and brought me to the dark side of the Brussels sprout debate. I call them Shredded Brussels Sprout a la Crow, because even people who say they hate Brussels sprouts admit they kind of like them prepared this way.
The crow, of course, is optional.
Shredded Brussels Sprout a la Crow – adapted from Jamie Deen, Food Network
1 strip bacon, sliced into thin strips (you can skip the bacon, if you like. It’s still delicious!)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
6 ounces Brussels sprouts (2 big handfuls)
Pinch brown sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Cook the bacon until crisp in a large skillet. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate.
While the bacon is cooking, cut off the ends of the brussels sprouts. Then chop the Brussels sprouts in half. Lay them cut-side-down and finely chop until they are all shredded.
Add the garlic and shallots to the skillet and saute until fragrant and the shallots are soft, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the Brussels sprouts and saute until tender crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Add a pinch of brown sugar. Season with salt and pepper and add the lemon juice. Saute for 1 minute more. Toss with the chopped parsley and bacon. Serve hot or at room temperature.