Braised Brussels Sprouts ♥

Simple & seasonal
Today's Simple Vegetable Recipe: Fresh Brussels sprouts braised in shallots, cream and broth, then stirred with mustard and parsley. Low carb.

Here's another winner, just fresh Brussels sprouts cooked in liquid in a covered skillet (yes, that's what it means to 'braise').

"BUT MY FAMILY WON'T EAT BRUSSELS SPROUTS!" I know, I know. Discomfort with Brussels sprouts and other vegetables in the cabbage (ahem) family is likely all about a sensitivity to bitterness. And the bitterness comes from chemicals called glucosinolates. If someone in your family is hesitant, resistant or outrightly militant in opposition to Brussels sprouts, know that the trick is to break up the center of the sprouts by cutting them in half and then, in order to leach out the chemicals, to cook them in a lot of well-salted water. (Thank you, On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, for this lesson.) Or, like tonight, as I learned, well-salted cream.

When trimming these particular Brussels sprouts, I could tell that they were definitely on the bitter side. So even though the inspiring recipe suggested leaving them whole, I cut them in half, pole to pole, right through the core. Then I cut a small slit into the core, opening up the most dense part of the sprout. (I knew this would make them cook faster, too, and would let the cream sauce wind its way into the caves and tunnels inside a sprout.) Bitterness, be gone!

NEXT TIME I'll try a couple of changes, not because the recipe needed improving, taste-wise, but to simplify it further.
When the sprouts were finished cooking, the halves looked so pretty in the skillet that I was sorry to have to 'stir them up' to add the mustard. So next time, I'll stir the mustard into the cream and broth beforehand and then take the entire skillet to the table. Yay! A dish saved!
For calorie purposes, I'll skip the cream and just braise the sprouts in chicken stock and mustard.

"ALL THAT TRIMMING, WHAT ABOUT FROZEN BRUSSELS SPROUTS?" I don't have good luck with frozen Brussels sprouts. Especially if you're trying to convert someone to how good Brussels sprouts can be, I would definitely use fresh ones. This time of year, supermarkets will often have whole stalks of Brussels sprouts, just break off ones of similar size.


Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 30 minutes
Serves 4

1 tablespoon butter
2 large shallots, chopped
1 pound small- to medium-size fresh Brussels sprouts

1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chicken stock or vegetable stock (I used bouillon)
Salt (only if the stock or bouillon isn't already salty)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard or other good mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (definitely optional here)

In a large skillet with a cover, melt the butter til shimmery on MEDIUM. Add the shallots and cook gently til just cooked. (The sprouts may not be fully prepped when the shallots are cooked, turn down the stove so they don't burn.)

Meanwhile, trim the Brussels sprouts. HOW TO TRIM BRUSSELS SPROUTS: Wash well. Slice off the end, this will loosen some outer leaves. Discard these, then remove a layer or so of leaves, until what's left inside is clean and bright-looking. Now slice the sprouts from top to bottom, slicing through the center of the core. With a knife, make a small slit just into the core.

Stir the cream and stock into the skillet (and the mustard, if you're trying this). Place the Brussels sprouts in a single layer, cut-side down, in the skillet. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes. (Taste one to see if it's done, if salt is needed.)

Remove the skillet from the from heat. If needed, stir in the mustard and the parsley. Serve immediately.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. You know it's funny -- I never liked brussels sprouts as a kid precisely because they were always too bitter and too soggy. Since then, I've had incredible results with olive oil, salt, and a nice high-heat roasting. Any wet method seems to make them less sweet to my taste buds.

    I might try braising them in cream, though, as you suggest here. Seems like the dairy might help them hang on to some of their natural sweetness.

    Thanks for the recipe!

  2. I wonder if I didn't like brussels sprouts growing up because my dad wouldn't have them in the house. When he was stationed in England during WWII, brussels sprouts where the only green thing they got and he got his fill. Gorn loves them and I think we have them once a week.
    Roasting is always a good thing and these look lovely.

  3. I love the idea of a mustard sauce; I'll try it on roasted Brussels sprouts, which are my favorites.

  4. That Harold McGee book is such a cook's bible.

  5. I've only had brussel sprouts once, and they were of the frozen variety. I've often wondered if roasting them wouldn't make the taste better; one thing I definitely disliked was the bitterness. You may have started the path to convincing me that I could like them... :) But I don't care for mustard either (hello, picky eaters). I wonder how some Parmesan melted in the mix would taste?

  6. Hi Deborah, You know, we don't want to risk that your second experience with Brussels sprouts being your last. So my recommendation is that you not play with a recipe to avoid an ingredient you don't like (like mustard) and instead pick one that calls for FRESH Brussels sprouts and ingredients you do like. If you eat meat, I'd recommend Brussels sprouts with Pancetta & Garlic. Give them a shot, I've turned several "I hate 'ems" into "I like these" (these statements come with surprised looks and shocked voices). AK


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna