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BRUSSELS SPROUTS
 
 

by Tejal Rao

Rarely will a chef go googly-eyed over a fine specimen of Brussels sprout. The vegetable comes into season at the end of August, makes an unpopular appearance on holiday set menus, and often fades out practically unnoticed by March. But Chef Akhtar Nawab, formerly of Craftbar and soon to be opening the much anticipated Allen and Delancey, shares three recipes that invite the vegetable back to make a second impression. The Brussels sprout can be a nutty, dense and tasty little substitute for cabbage.
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Recipes

By Chef Akhtar Nawab – New York, NY

»
Roasted Sirloin, Confit Brussels Sprouts, Bone Marrow Custard
» Poached Guinea Hen with Brussels Fondue & Sauteed Chicken Livers
» Smoked and Grilled Spanish Mackerel, Beet Bouillon, and Brussels Sprouts

continued.
As with most vegetables, there are plenty of cautionary tales surrounding the proper way to cook a Brussels sprout. Some argue a quick blast at high temperature, others a long cooking at a low temperature. Many blame immersion in water for the sprout's sometimes off putting smell, others blame lengthy refridgeration.

It's all nonsense.

It's the sprout's high levels of glucosinolates, bitter flavor compounds, that are responsible for the vegetable's bad reputation. And these develop regardless of the length of cooking, or the method. However, the sprout's flavor components are concentrated in the center and can be fought off with proper cooking. Harold McGee suggests halving the sprouts and boiling them in a large pot of water to leach out the sinigrin and bitter thyocyanate.

After a scrub and a quick boil, the little bitterness remaining can work to balance a sweet or acidic dish without overpowering it. The agreeable sprout is ready to bend to the authority of Chef Nawab in a long bath of duck fat with bone marrow custard, a rich, chicken liver gratin, and a simple roast with buttermilk-coated guinea hen.

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   Published: September 2006

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