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The Carthage Press
  • Love your Brussels sprouts

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  • Brussels sprouts. Did you just wrinkle your nose? Lots of people do.
    I used to be in the “ewww” crowd, too. I almost skipped down the menu when I saw sprouts listed at Ristorante Tosca, a lovely Italian restaurant in Washington, D.C. (www.toscadc.com). Too late. I was hooked by the strip steak, which arrived on a bed of sprouts with a side of radicchio.
    Not my usual crew of veggies, but with rising meat prices in mind, I decided to do a little research. Yes, and revel in that steak.
    So green, so red
    The beef was predictably succulent, but the little green hemispheres were a revelation. I’ll try not to become a sprouts bore, it’s just that I’m still amazed at the 180 my taste buds performed after the first forkful. When I began experimenting with this entrée at home, I topped the sprouts with pan-fried salmon. I also used red cabbage in place of radicchio to make a very simple red slaw.
    About the slaw: This vivid sidekick can be quite sharp, depending on how much balsamic vinegar you use. As with most recipes, you can tailor this one to your family’s tastes. Combine 2 /3 cup of coarsely chopped red cabbage, 1 /3 cup of sliced red onion, 1/4 cup cucumber slices, 1/4 cup brilliant red grape tomatoes and a dressing of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. I steamed the mixture.
    On the finished plate, I was tickled to see that the little tomatoes seemed to echo the size and shape of the sprouts. Very pretty.
    And so good for you
    Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, kale and several other veggies are members of the cruciferous family. They’re packed with nutrients, such as vitamins A and C, and have a fair amount of iron. The calorie count seems amazingly low, only 50 to 60 for about eight sprouts. Another good point: The cruciferous army protects against certain cancers.
    On the debit side, if stored or cooked too long, sprouts are cursed with a (whew) pungency that shoos away potential fans. Overcooking also makes them mushy and a rather dull green, when you want firm and bright, with no odor hanging around later.
    So enjoy sprouts and their cruciferous cousins, but do pay attention to cooking time with this two-step recipe. I can almost hear you wondering about the careful development of flavor. Are we trying to make these veggies taste like something else?
    No, and even with the help of thick-sliced bacon, sprouts are definitely sprouts. We’re just using a little TLC to bring out their green-hearted best.
    BRUSSELS SPROUTS
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 cup chicken broth
    • 1/2 t salt
    • 12 fresh Brussels sprouts, loose outer leaves discarded (see note below on frozen sprouts)
    Page 2 of 2 - • 1 strip bacon, cut into 1/4-inch-wide pieces
    • 1 T canola oil
    • 1 T unsalted butter
    • 1/2 cup thin-sliced red onion
    • 1/2 t fresh rosemary, chopped (or 1/4 t dried)
    • 1/4 t dried marjoram
    In a medium saucepan, combine water, chicken broth, salt and sprouts. Bring to a low boil. Cook just until sprouts are somewhat tender, not soft. Remove them from the saucepan and cut off the stems. Remove leaves that have loosened during cooking. Cut the sprouts in half or, if they’re large, in quarters.
    In a sauté pan over medium heat, fry bacon until barely crisp. Pour off bacon grease. Add canola oil and butter. Into hot pan, place red onion, rosemary and marjoram. Cook until the onion turns translucent, then add sprouts, cut side down. Cook for about two minutes. Add 2 T chicken stock to deglaze the pan. Cook for another minute or two.
    Serve sprouts as a bed for salmon, steak, pork or chicken.
    Note: Frozen sprouts become mushy quickly, so just heat them well in broth, then slice and move them to the bacon/onion pan.
    Makes 2 servings.

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