Friday, February 12, 2010


Femme Forte recently took me to task over my remark that "...I was forced to eat Brussels sprouts." Her quibble has bothered me ever since, so I decided to go boldly forth and attempt to develop a taste for the little member of the cabbage family. I had eaten them only one way: boiled, with an acrid aftertaste resembling chewed tinfoil.

They are cute, tiny little cabbages grown atop a long stalk with a few large leaves at the top. They were so named because of selective breeding of the cabbage in Belgium in the thirteenth century, and like their larger forbears, there are red and green varieties. When selecting them at the market, late fall and early winter are the prime time. Look for dense, small sprouts, preferably about 3/4 to 1 inch in diameter.

I bought about 16 heads at the grocery store, plopped them onto the counter of my little galley, and prepared to overcome my life-long distaste for the tiny nodules.

The galley at Chez Tingey

First, I cut off any remnant of the stem, leaving only the final leaf bud, then sliced them lengthwise into 1/8" pieces.

A sharp knife and 1/8" slices

I use a cast iron or stainless steel fry pan. I drizzled olive oil in the bottom of the fry pan and sauteed the slices for several minutes. Then I poured in 1/4 inch of chicken stock, about 1 cup. If you use chicken bouillon mix, remember it is salty, so go lightly on any additional salt!

Brussels sprouts in chicken stock

I added chopped fresh thyme, fresh ground pepper, a dash of salt, and squeezed in a lemon slice. Cooking for another 7-10 minutes rendered the liquid into a slightly emulsified sauce.

All salted, peppered, and reduced
and ready to serve

Last summer my friend Rebecca and I caught a mess of halibut in Cook Inlet, and I still have a freezer full, so I thawed a fillet, sliced off the skin, washed and dried the fish, and chopped it into bite-sized chunks. I have a wonderful old Griswold cast iron deep-sided chicken fryer into which I poured enough canola oil to deep fry the fish rolled in corn flour. A simple but beautiful meal.

The deep fried halibut chunks

Rebecca brought a bottle of red "Rebecca" home-made Shiraz. Gone from the sprouts was the acrid metallic taste I remembered from my childhood. Can't wait to try it again with a mutton dish.

Rebecca at the feast

So, Candace, this sprout's for you!