Some veggies just can’t catch a break. Few people have a neutral response to brussels sprouts, and those who dislike them are vehement in their reactions. It may even be a genetic disposition – a receptor to the bitterness that others do not detect. Let me be clear that I do not doubt that for those who have this taste reaction, the unpleasant taste is very real. This can sometimes be tempered by the addition of some gateway substance, like bacon. Or cheese sauce. And there are more labor intensive treatments, such as using only the outer leaves, wilting them in a fast treatment to be joined with some bacon or pancetta, browned onions, vinaigrette like the lovely warm salad that Pizza Antica serves (and kindly has included their recipe in their newsletter). Maybe they are part of a subversive movement to change opinions about this poorly regarded little wonder.
The first time I saw them treated with a smokey bacon was at a holiday dinner in England, where my very talented sister-in-law parboiled them in advance, just short of done, drained, and finished them off at the last moment with chestnuts and bacon or lardons in a wok. That was worth dealing with chestnuts for several holidays afterwards. And leftover brussels sprouts can be a key ingredient to bubble & squeak or holiday leftover hash.
Separating the leaves and not using the light tinted, tight interior seems to sweeten the dish and also shorten the cooking. Of course since in my own household they are actually popular, we often have them simply steamed in half an inch of water, cutting an x in the bottom as they are trimmed. Peel off any hint of discolored outer leaves. If you are in a hurry, maybe cut them in half. 7-9 minutes, drain and splash just a drop of olive oil and maybe some lemon juice and serve.
And, one can always use them as a garnish – trimmed, parboiled for just a minute then chilled in ice water, and you have a brilliant green orb. A slit cut halfway up from the stem end will allow you to place it on the edge of your martini glass. Just the garnish for a bright prickly pear margarita, aka the pan-galactic gargleblaster!
Or you can do what some very bad children did. Pass them under the table to the one sibling who likes them. The guilty will know who they are.
May your veggies be delightful. Even the Monster Eyes.