Fine Cooking (January 2014)
There are recipes that make people fall in love with Brussels sprouts. And then there are recipes that reinforce one's preconceived notions of why one don't like Brussels in the first place, conjuring childhood memories of standoffs at the dining room table and refusal to finish. Your. Plate.
We discovered early on in our cooking adventures that Brusselphobes could be converted to Brusselphiles in one easy step: roasting. Oven-roasting sprouts keeps them crisp and gives them a gorgeous golden caramelization that's really tasty. (Bacon and apples never hurt, either.)
Then there are dishes like this Brussels Sprouts and Leeks with Lime-Ginger Butter.
We were split. Did we like this? We're not totally sure.
So we came up with a little game of Choose Your Own Adventure: Journey to Brussels Sprouts.
Ready to play?
If you're a Brussels sprouts fan, proceed to point A.
Brussels haters, skip to point B.
Point A: For Brussels lovers.
If you're an unabashed Brussels sprout fan, you may love this dish. The leeks serve as a nice compliment to the sprouts, and the lime-ginger butter offers a sharp, bright note on top of the vegetables. It's an aggressive set of flavors, but a nice switch-up if you're in a Brussels sprout rut.
This dish is part of a feature about Slow-Sautéed Winter Vegetables and is fully executed on the stove top in a three-step process: Steam. Brown. Finish.
In this case, you steam the Brussels in oil, lid on, allowing them to brown; sauté them with leeks until the leeks are limp; then finish the dish with the butter mixture.
If you like your Brussels on the soft and mushy side, proceed to Point C.
If you like your Brussels on the crispy side, proceed to Point D.
Point B: For Brussels haters.
If you're someone who dislikes Brussels sprouts -- if you relegate them to the Island of Misfit Vegetables along with the likes of rutabaga and bok choy -- this dish is unlikely to sway you.
The flavors are strong and perk up the dish -- especially the lime -- but the sprouts are soft and mushy. Skip this dish and instead make a Pasta with Charred Brussels Sprout Leaves, or a Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Sriracha and Cashews. Or even just a simple roasted Brussels sprout dish.
This lime-ginger dish isn't going to change your mind about Brussels, but one of those others just might.
Point C: For mushier sprouts.
If you like your Brussels sprouts on the softer, mushier side, you'll love this cooking method. That's not our preferred way to eat Brussels.
And in fairness, that may not be what's intended by this recipe. After 15 minutes, our leeks were nowhere near limp, and we ended up sautéeing the dish for another 15 to 20 minutes in order to soften the leeks. As a result, the Brussels were very soft and tender. Extending the sauté step to avoid crisp leeks meant that the Brussels cooked and cooked and cooked some more, softening with each minute. No teeth required to eat these sprouts.
Ready to cook this recipe? Proceed to recipe!
Not sold and want to try this with crispier sprouts? Proceed to Point D.
Point D: Seeking crisper Brussels.
In the sauté step of this dish, you add leeks to the pan with the Brussels, and cook until the leeks are limp. In our execution of this dish, that took double the time called for in the recipe, meaning the Brussels sprouts went mushy.
An easy fix for this would be to pre-cook the leeks in their own, smaller pan. If we had this to do over again, we'd sauté the leeks in a small skillet while the Brussels are steaming. Or, if we didn't want to dirty an additional pan, we'd sauté the leeks on their own in the 12-inch skillet prior to cooking the Brussels, and move them to a bowl until we were ready to add them back in during the sauté stage.
Proceed to recipe.
Brussels Sprouts and Leeks with Lime-Ginger Butter
Fine Cooking (December/January 2014), recipe by Susie Middleton
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Nutrition Information Available at FineCooking.com
Note from Zach and Clay:
The final product here produced mushy Brussels sprouts for us -- we had to extend the sauté step in order to soften the leeks. If we had this to do over again, we'd sauté the leeks in a small skillet while the Brussels are steaming. Or, if we didn't want to dirty a pan, we'd sauté the leeks on their own in the 12-inch skillet prior to cooking the Brussels, moving them to a bowl until we were ready to add them back in during the sauté stage.
Serves 4 to 6
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 Tbs. minced peeled fresh ginger
1 medium lime, finely grated to yield 1 tsp. zest and squeezed to yield 1 Tbs. juice
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/4 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed, and quartered lengthwise if large, halved if small
3 medium leeks, white and light-green parts only, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds, rings separated and washed well but not dried
PREPARE THE BUTTER: Melt the butter in a small skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, swirling occasionally, until the milk solids turn light brown, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger and stir for a few seconds. Remove the pan from the heat, add the lime zest and juice, and swirl to combine.
STEAM: Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the Brussels sprouts and 1 tsp. salt; toss well to coat with oil.
Cover the pan with the lid ajar by about 1 inch. Turn the heat down to medium low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sprouts start to brown, 8 to 12 minutes. As the mixture cooks, you should hear a gentle sizzle.
SAUTE: Uncover, turn the heat down to low, add the leeks (with any water still clinging to them) and cook, stirring occasionally and then pushing the vegetables back into a single layer so that most have direct contact with the pan, until the leeks are limp and the sprouts are well browned, about 15 minutes.
FINISH: Remove the pan from the heat. Pour the butter mixture over the sprouts and leeks and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan and tossing well to coat. Season to taste with salt. Serve right away or let sit off the heat, partially covered, until ready to serve, and then reheat gently over medium-low heat.