How to Fall in Love With Brussels Sprouts (Prepare Them Correctly!)

Brussels Sprouts

Over Easter, The Conductor and I visited a high-end restaurant to treat ourselves to an extravagant Easter brunch buffet.

Now, you might say our first mistake was going to a buffet.

And that our second mistake was going to an Easter buffet.

But it was a high-end restaurant—and a newly opened one at that. Wouldn’t they want to impress newcomers?

Unfortunately, I can never go back. The chefs exhibited extreme ignorance, perhaps negligence (neither are acceptable), in proper preparation of the Brussels sprout. They were bitter, crunchy, and vile.

Little flashback: When The Conductor and I met, one of our very first exchanges was about food. He talked about preparing a carrot salad with coconut and raisins (mixed with mayo), which is the biggest food travesty I can imagine. I changed the subject quickly to Brussels sprouts roasted with fingerling potatoes, shallots, and pancetta, and he wrinkled his nose in disgust.

I know, I can’t believe we made it to another date. But we did. Probably because I forced him to eat my favorite Brussels sprouts dish soon thereafter, and to this day he has had to regularly admit he was wrong.

(I am not wrong about the carrot salad, though.)

Anyway, I’m here to tell you: If you don’t like Brussels sprouts, it’s because you don’t know how to prepare them. As a public service, I am clearly detailing what must happen to enjoy these little majestic veggies, along with the first dish you should attempt.

The Rules

  1. Buy fresh Brussels sprouts.
  2. Cut off the stubby stem (just like you might cut off the stem of a cabbage).
  3. Peel off the outer layers of the sprout. (Important!)
  4. Cut in half.

Toss the sprouts generously with olive oil. Add small, halved potatoes (fingerling are ideal), onions or shallots, and some pancetta or diced bacon. Add kosher salt and pepper. Roast in the oven (about 450F), stirring every 15 minutes. Within 45 minutes (maybe sooner, depending on the aggressiveness of the oven and the composition of your pan), take it out. Consider adding a little butter or lemon.

What will happen to those sprouts? They will melt in your mouth, without a trace of bitterness.

If you don’t like that preparation, check Smitten Kitchen (with wonderful photos of sprouts):

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Posted in Recipes.

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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