As promised, it’s Organic Brussels Sprouts Week here at Organic Authority. Before you utter an “Ewww!” or an “Ick,” we encourage you to forget traumatic memories of the past and learn how to cook these nutritious—and delicious—organic vegetables properly for a wonderful Thanksgiving side dish.
Many of us have had the same experience as Lachlan Sands, associate chef instructor at the California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, California, and a former sous-chef at the Water Grill in Los Angeles—commonly regarded as one of the best seafood restaurants in the country.
“My mother taught me to hate Brussels sprouts,” Chef Sands tells Organic Authority. “They were olive green, mushy, tasted funky and smelled bad. It turns out my experience is not unusual. Many people have never had Brussels sprouts as they should be—bright green, firm, mild and sweet.”
Our mothers ruined them, he says, by making a common culinary mistake: overcooking.
“Brussels sprouts—and all members of the cabbage family—contain sulfur compounds attached to the sugars in the leaves,” he explains. “When you overcook the sprout, these sulfur compounds bust off and give the sprouts a pungent, rotten-egg, cabbage-mustard aroma—and the flavor follows suit. The longer you cook them, the more extreme the effect is.”
Great organic Brussels sprouts begin with proper produce selection.
“First, choose small, compact sprouts,” Chef Sands instructs. “They are not really sweeter than large ones, but because they are small, they cook faster and have less time to develop the icky smell. Next, cut an ‘X’ into the base of the stem. Throw them into a lot of boiling water—at least a gallon of water per pound of sprouts. The biochemical reasons for this are complicated, but this is a way to keep the color a vibrant green.
“After five or six minutes of cooking—or when a paring knife goes into the stem and comes out without resistance—pull the sprouts out, and throw them into a bowl of ice water. If they stay hot, they will continue to cook, so get them cold quickly. Now, cut them in half lengthwise, and you can hold them cold for several hours and reheat to serve them.”
Tune in tomorrow’s blog for some fabulous recipes and cooking tips.