Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Location: Texas, United States

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Don't Boil Dem Sprouts!!

Guilty!! Of 2nd Degree Immature Cabbage Abuse!!

My buddy Jingles went to a high-falutin' cooking class last weekend, and learned to make all kinds of edible yummies.

One thing about her recap made me cringe though, and that was her co-conspirator that took a bunch of Brussels sprouts and "boiled them to death".

¡Ay Caramba! ¡Dios Mio! ¡Fuego Chivo y Culo del Toro!

I love Brussels sprouts. I posted a recipe about them way back when, but it's time I revisited their preparation so perhaps a few tasty sprouts might not be consigned to the watery grave to become a bitter, smelly green turd on your dinner plate.

OK, here's the deal. Brussels sprouts are basically just tiny little cabbages. Like cabbage, if they're cooked too long, you start to get weird smells and off-tastes developing. You need to cook 'em just long enough to get tender, and no more.

"But, El Cap!" you say... "They've got a hard knot at the base where the stem is. You've got to boil the piss outta the thing to soften it up!"

Not at all. It's all about how "X" marks the spot.

When you prepare your sprouts and are pulling off the loose yellow leaves and trimming the stem, take a second to cut a deep "X" into the stem end. Go at least 1/2" deep, and don't worry if a few extra green leaves detach from the base.

Cutting into the stem allows the hot water and/or oil to work down into the stem to soften it up quicker. You can also cut the sprouts in half if you're so inclined, but they do tend to come apart in water. Splitting them works better if you roast them.

If you just gotta use hot water, put your sprouts in a pan, barely cover with cold water, and set on a medium flame. Bring to a boil, and once boiling, cook no more than 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, toss with a bit of melted butter, salt & pepper.

Roasting is even easier. Toss the washed, cleaned and "X"ed sprouts with olive oil, kosher salt and cracked pepper, then put on a baking pan in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes or so. Stir/flip every 7-10 minutes so all sides heat evenly. Don't worry about a few burnt leaves. Like the browned gooey stuff on the bottom of a stew pot, that's the tastiest part!

I'd imagine a splash or two of balsamic vinegar with the olive oil, kosher salt and cracked pepper marinade wouldn't be a bad idea, either. Also, you could add some onion slices, slivered shallots, walnuts, almonds, or whatever else you had handy.

So, be careful boiling them sprouts! You could do them (and yourself) a disservice!