Thursday, October 8, 2015

Battle of the Brussels

That magical time of the year when they are selling edible trees.  Brussels sprout trees.  My local grocery was no exception.  I ended up with this:
My very own fortress of Brussels sprouts
A huge pot of water to boil

You don't need to get 4 of them.  But it bugs me the utter amount of time and water blanching takes.  So when I do it, I do it in bulk.  I also like it because it preps fresh veggies for excellent freezing.
And another to quick-cool the
hot, blanched sprouts 

Working with the Brussels sprouts on trees is more work, but when you look at the prices of of the tidy, pre-trimmed nets of those tiny, tiny cabbages, setting aside some time to conquer the stalk seems worth it.  Oh, and working my way through this project continues to remind me I cannot do this professionally.  I would get so fired, so fast, because I am relatively slow.
Ewwww! Baby slug.
Oh, well - off you go.

The first thing you'll realize it this is full of surprises.  The trees have passengers.  And there are some bum sprouts.  Depending on the size of these less than prime sprouts, you can cut off the bad bit, or dismantle for leaves.
Oh dear, this one is not prime.

Look - my sprout has
minnie sprouts!
But you will also get to see the awesome fractal nature of the sprouts.  When you get the pre cleaned sprouts, where everything looks like these lovely firm miniature cabbages, all these interesting aspects of the sprouts are lost.

To get this rodeo started, you need to remove the sprouts from the stalk.  This is pretty easy, and one kids can help with.

 Then, look through for passengers, and icky spots.  Remove them, trim off long stems, and remove any leaves that are hanging off loose from the cabbage head.

I used to throw those away, but since reading, eating out, and wasting my life watching cooking shows, I have come to see those leaves (only the sound ones - nothing yucky) as their own prize.  They get set aside for their own use.  These I rinsed and blanched for about a minute before using.  I planned to char them a bit, so I spun them in a salad spinner to dry them.

The sprouts, once all trimmed made quite a stack.  You'll notice some of them are cut in half.  It is important to have all the sprouts in shouting distance of the same size.  Since some of the sprouts at the top are teeny-tiny, and some at the bottom are huge, cutting the very biggest ones in half solves the problem.

Time to blanch.  I put the sprouts in the water in batches so I don't lower the water temp too much, and cause the water to take too long to get back to the boil.

3 minutes in boiling water.  A dunk in the ice water to cool them off, and then use a slotted spoon to let them rest in a colander and drain some more while I work my way through the pile.

When they are cool and well drained, I divide them up into dinner size portions (for the 3 of us that's a quart freezer bag with a loosely pack layer of sprouts.  FWIW)  I also suck the air out of the bag with a straw (well didn't have a straw last night, so I was a little closer to that patented plastic zipper tech.)
10 dinners.  I may have to come up with something other than bacon
and Brussels.  Miso?  Vinegary sauerkraut inspired?  Charred
sprouts and charred carrots with caramelized onions?
The leaves got charred (on purpose) in my wok - and then added in to a veggie rice (carrots, celery, green onion, ginger, garlic, and sauce added in at the end.)

If that all seems like too much work, here are a few recipes for roasting the sprouts on the stalks.  However, I cannot recommend strongly enough giving your stalk a full inspection looking for passengers and sub par sprouts and trimming them off before you go ahead with the recipes.

Trader Joe's offers a sweet and savory take

or Nutmeg Nanny with a straight up roasted version

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