Brussels Sprouts belong to the Brassica family and have a distinctive "love or hate" flavour. They are believed to have originated in Flanders (part of modern day Belgium) in the Middle Ages. They are similar in nature to miniature cabbages growing in concentric rows on a long tough stalk. Brussels sprouts are a traditional Christmas dinner item but are available for most of the year. They are a good source of fibre and vitamins, especially Vitamin C and folic acid.
Preparing and Using
Brussels sprouts should be bought as fresh as possible as older ones are more likely to have a strong unpleasant flavour. They should be small and hard with tightly wrapped leaves. Cut away the bottom of the stalk and remove outer leaves before use. Some people cut a cross across the bottom of the sprout before cooking. If they are being boiled, they are usually cooked whole unless they are very big. If they are being stir-fried or used in a gratin or smilar dish they will need to be cut into smaller pieces or sliced.
Brussels sprouts can be served on their own as a vegetable or in a vegetable dish. They are traditionally served with chestnuts at Christmas and have an affinity for other nuts especially sweet ones such as almonds.
Brussels sprouts should be boiled very briefly or braised slowly in the oven. To stir-fry, slice into small pieces and fry in oil with onion, ginger and almonds. They can be blanched and refreshed to re-heat at a later stage to keep their colour. Brussels sprouts can be baked in the oven with cream and milk and parmesan cheese. Other flavours and ingredients that go well with Brussels sprouts include bacon lardons, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots and sesame oil.
Source of Supply: Ireland
Availability on Irish Market: August - March