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eat your brussels sprouts 
how to cook Brussels sprouts (and like them too!)

by Yee-Fan Sun
1 2 3 4
continued from page 2

get cooking
Though I'm generally not a big fan of boiled vegetables, with Brussels sprouts, I make an exception. While there are other ways to cook these cute little mini-cabbages -- steaming and microwaving, for instance, or oven braising -- boiling seems to be the easiest way to keep an eye on the sprouts as they cook, and ensure that they don't get overdone. Properly cooked boiled Brussels sprouts spruced up with little more than a slice of butter and a dose of salt and pepper? Mmmmmmm, so simple; so tasty...

basic boiled Brussels sprouts
Bring a pot of water to a boil -- big enough to accommodate bubbly water and your sprouts -- and add salt (for my smallish pot, I add about a half-teaspoonful). Toss in the Brussels sprouts, let the water come back to a boil, then lower the heat so the contents gently bubble. You'll need to cook uncovered for 7-11 minutes, depending upon how large your individual sprouts happen to be and how you like them. Undercooked sprouts tend to be a little bitter and unpleasantly chewy; overcooked sprouts get rather odiferous and slimy-mealy in texture. A well-cooked sprout should be mostly or completely tender (some folks like a little crispness in the center; I actually like mine fairly well cooked-through). Meanwhile, the color should still be an attractive green. You should be able to insert the tip of a paring knife into the stem with very little pressure; if it slips in easily, the sprouts should be done. Take a bigger sprout out, slice it in half and do a taste test. If all's good, drain the sprouts immediately.

Brussels sprouts with chestnuts 
6 oz. Brussels sprouts
4 oz. cooked chestnuts*
1 clove of garlic
1 scant Tbsp. butter

serves 2 as a side

* The easiest way to get your hands on cooked chestnuts is to cheat and spring for the peeled, ready-to-go sort that comes in jars and is available at (schmancier) supermarkets. My boy says he actually prefers this kind, as the texture tends to be softer. If you feel the need to work with fresh raw chestnuts, however, here's what to do: Preheat the oven to 400F. Meanwhile, use a sharp paring knife to CAREFULLY slice a big X on the flat side of the chestnut (try not to cut off you fingers in the process -- those nuts can be slippery). You mainly want to cut through the skin, but piercing some of the flesh will probably be unavoidable. Place the nuts on a baking sheet, and roast for 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until the skin is darkened and peeling off. Remove from oven and let cool for about five minutes, just enough that you can handle them without burning off your fingertips (if you let them cool too long, they'll be harder to peel). Peel off the hard outer skin as well as the thin inner one. At this point, taste a chestnut. If the meat's not tender enough, you can boil the peeled chestnuts for a few minutes to soften them further.

1 Boil the Brussels sprouts until they're tender. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. While they're cooking, mince up the garlic.
2 When the sprouts are cooked, slide a scant Tbsp. of butter into a skillet, and melt over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and quickly sauté for a minute or so, until soft and aromatic. Add the chestnuts, give them a good stir, and cook for a minute or two. Now add the cooked Brussels sprouts, stir well to coat in butter and garlic, and cook for another minute, just enough to warm up the sprouts and get the flavors to mingle. You're ready to serve!

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