Friday, February 25, 2011

Cooking at Home: Apricot Glazed Brussels Sprouts

I think Brussels sprouts have a bad reputation in America. As a kid I never tasted a Brussels sprout, but I was convinced that those tiny green cabbages were disgusting and only fed to children as punishment for bad behavior. This carried on until my senior year of college when, in a daring dining moment, I ordered braised pork belly with Brussels sprouts. The pork belly was lovely, but the real revelation were the sprouts. Bright green, tender, lightly buttered, with a slightly nutty, earthy taste. It was nothing like the slimy, bitter, boiled cabbage flavor I had imagined for 20 years of my life, and I was in love.

Since then, I've roasted, boiled, broiled, casseroled, and sauteed these tiny green darlings in a number of ways, working from a basic recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. That Julia Child knew a thing of two about a fool-proof recipe, and that stands to test in this case. Her basic recipe produces tender sprouts ready for eating with a little butter, or ready for dressing up in the oven or frying pan. Mastering provides quite a few delicious takes, but my take on this basic preparation is inviting to those with a distaste for sprouts, and delicious to those who already love them.

Apricot Glazed Brussels Sprouts

When shopping, look for bright green, tightly-bundled sprouts without brown spotting. I serve these alongside pork most often, but am also guilty of eating these all on their own for lunch. This recipe can be used for any amount of sprouts you like, but the recipe below is for 2 side-servings.

12-15 Brussels sprouts
2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons apricot preserves
(optional: toasted, chopped pecans)

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.
  2. Once at a boil, add the Brussels Sprouts. Keep water at boil.
  3. Boil Brussels sprouts for 6-8 minutes. Precision is necessary, as over-boiled sprouts break down and develop an unpleasant taste. You can test the doneness of you sprout by removing one, and seeing if a fork goes through with only a slight amount of resistance. The middle should not have a "crisp" fork-feel.
  4. After 6-8 minutes, drain your sprouts, and run cold water over them to stunt their cooking. You can also shock the sprouts in an ice bath, although this is not necessary.
  5. Prepare a pan over medium heat to begin the glaze. For this amount, I suggest a medium-sized pan or skillet.
  6. Once your pan is heated, add butter and apricot preserves. This creates the sauce for the sprouts.
  7. Once the butter has melted and the preserves have liquefied, the glaze should bubble slowly. You should scrape the bottom of your pan to avoid scorching (as you would when making scrambled eggs). If your glaze bubbles quickly as if it is boiling, or appears to scorch, lower the heat.
  8. Add your sprouts to the pan and allow them to heat again, tossing or spooning the glaze over the sprouts. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. You may add chopped nuts, such as pecans, at this point if you wish.
  10. After allowing the Brussels sprouts to reheat and glaze for about 3-4 minutes, they are ready to serve.
If you have any comments or suggestions about this recipe, please let me know. I hope you'll adventure into the tasty world of Brussels Sprouts while they're still in season!


  1. Will you please make these for me the next time I'm with you? I don't think I'm a sprout fan, but I don't know if I have enough info to be able to make that assessment! LOVE YOU!