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Peter May

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RCP - In defence of Brussel Sprouts

by Peter May » Thu Apr 27, 2006 12:29 pm

As an alternative to Robins RCP where he gives tips on how to disguise Brussel Sprouts, I will give a few pointers here how to make the best of sprouts.

BUYING

1) Buy them in season - that is in winter after the first frosts. They are firmer and have a better taste.

2) Never buy pre-prepared sprouts if you can help -- they are expensive and they still need preparation.

3) When choosing loose sprouts pick the tiniest ones. Big is not beautiful. At the end ofthe season when they get bigger, buy the same number of sprouts even though they are bigger i.e. not by weight.

PREPARING

4) No matter the size of the sprout you bought, you only want to eat a tiny one. With the smallest ones, take off all the loose outer leaves till you get a firm tight bud. For the large ones, cut across the base and remove all the outer dark leaves till you get a firm tight bud.

5) Don't cut a slot or cross in the base. Its not necessary as you now have small tiny tight and beautiful sprouts that cookeasily and fast

COOKING

6) Use a steamer - steam for 15 minutes and check with the tip of a thin knife. The tip should go in, but there should be some resistance. You don't want soggy or soft. Think 'al dente'.

7) Serve immediately*. Don't keep warm, reheat or whatever. Just put them on to cook 15-20 minutes before you start serving.

Easy, nutricious and delicious.

If you have been put off sprouts before, try again as there are new sweet varieties on the market. The old sour stinky varieties seem to have gone, thank goodness.

* That's how we have them, nude (them not us), with nothing added (except roasted meat, potatoes, some other vegetables and a bottle of good red wine).

But feel free to add what you want.

Ummm - now we'l have to wait until the winter to enjoy them again.
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Bob Ross

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Re: RCP - In defence of Brussel Sprouts

by Bob Ross » Thu Apr 27, 2006 7:32 pm

I agree with everything you write, but that "15 minutes" of steaming. At 550 feet over sea level where we live, sprouts would be mush at the 15 minute point.

I steam for five to five and a half minutes, depending on the type of sprout we're having. We use the little baskets with water just touching the bottom of the basket at full boil.

I've tried a number of alternatives -- best for us is roasting with a bit of balsamic reduction or maple syrup near the end -- but steaming is always our first choice.

Regards, Bob
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Peter May

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Re: RCP - In defence of Brussel Sprouts

by Peter May » Sat Apr 29, 2006 12:19 pm

Bob Ross wrote:I agree with everything you write, but that "15 minutes" of steaming. At 550 feet over sea level where we live, sprouts would be mush at the 15 minute point.

I steam for five to five and a half minutes, depending on the type of sprout we're having. We use the little baskets with water just touching the bottom of the basket at full boil.


Important that they are not soft.

To be honest, I haven't timed it but I think that it takes some time to get the water up to steam producing mode on my ceramic hob.

When I see the steam coming out the vent holes of the saucepan lid, I check.
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Re: RCP - In defence of Brussel Sprouts

by Bob Ross » Sat Apr 29, 2006 12:29 pm

Ah, Peter, one small technique point. It sounds like you are putting the vegetables in the cooker when the water is cold.

If you can, it's best to add the sprouts when the steam is starting to be made. Then you can time your cooking precisely, and your vegetables will be perfect every time.

I learned this tip at my first CIA course, and since Janet and I eat so many vegetables, it was the single most important thing I learned during the entire week.

Regards, Bob
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Bill Buitenhuys

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Re: RCP - In defence of Brussel Sprouts

by Bill Buitenhuys » Sat Apr 29, 2006 4:59 pm

Another brussels sprouts fan here. I love them steamed as well, then tossed in a bit of butter and salt. Or steamed then pan-caramelized in butter. One of our local supermarkets recently started selling sprouts still on the stalk. I havent tried them to see if they are any tastier than the ones pre-cut from the stalk and in those little cardboard tubs though.
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Re: RCP - In defence of Brussel Sprouts

by Bob Ross » Sat Apr 29, 2006 5:14 pm

I like the one's on a stalk, Bill. I cut the end at an angle, and put it in water in a plastic container, and let the stalk re-hydtrate for a day or two. The little balls seem much more tasty to us.

Regards, Bob
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Peter May

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Re: RCP - In defence of Brussel Sprouts

by Peter May » Sun Apr 30, 2006 12:20 pm

Bob Ross wrote:Ah, Peter, one small technique point. It sounds like you are putting the vegetables in the cooker when the water is cold.


No - I never heat water on the hob, I use the electric kettle, pour boiling water in the pan and put on hob.
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Re: RCP - In defence of Brussel Sprouts

by Peter May » Sun Apr 30, 2006 12:24 pm

Bill Buitenhuys wrote: One of our local supermarkets recently started selling sprouts still on the stalk. .


In the UK these only seem to come out justbefore Christmas when you need to keep veggies for longer than usual. Otherwise they're loose or prepacked in nets.

Problem with on the stalk is that you can't just pick the smallest sprouts as you can loose. I prefer to buy & use within 24 hours, and Ionly buy as many as I want, say 15 each for Jo & me.

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