In Season: Brussels Sprouts, Late Fall to Early Winter

Quite a few years ago, Brussels sprouts earned a place at my Thanksgiving table. They ousted the green bean casserole and stood staunchly between the mashed potatoes and the pecan-studded yams. Each year I serve them a little differently: roasted whole, sauteed with bacon or even sliced into wispy shreds.

Although this green vegetable is proudly eaten on my holiday plate, this is not the case for some. Each Thanksgiving I notice more than a few guests with dinner plates piled high, devoid of this cruciferous vegetable. I think I understand why. Perhaps they have only tasted boiled Brussels sprouts, soggy and sulfuric—I wouldn’t like those sprouts either! A Brussels sprout can be a wonderfully nutty, deeply savory vegetable; it is all in how you cook it. You wouldn’t boil an ice cream cone, would you? Don’t boil your Brussels sprouts, either.

A member of the brassica family and kin to broccoli or cabbage, the Brussels sprout grows on a sturdy stalk. Small sprouts, newly plucked, are the sweetest, with the flavor becoming more assertive with age. The following recipe is a good place to start for the Brussels sprout novice. Braised gently in cream, the liquid becomes shiny, hugging each sprout. Give this a recipe a try at your Thanksgiving feast.

Brussels Sprouts Braised in Cream

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound Brussels sprouts, preferably small, cleaned
¼ cup water
3 tablespoons heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

Trim the end of Brussels sprouts. If needed, slice the large sprouts in half.

In a medium sized skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until surface is shimmering. Add the sprouts, a bit of salt, and saute until getting slightly browned, approximately 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, and add the water. Cover the pan and let the Brussels sprouts steam for 7-10 minutes, or until most of the water is absorbed. Add cream, salt and pepper, tossing well, to ensure each sprout is coated in the mixture. Continue cooking for about 3 minutes, or until most of the cream has been absorbed and is clinging to the Brussels sprouts.

Brussels sprouts should be tender. Taste for seasoning, and serve.


Adrienne Kane is a writer and photographer. She is the author of a memoir, Cooking and Screaming, and the food blog,

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