A-HA! Those Are Brussels Sprout Crowns

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Brussels Sprout Crowns

When I left the house this morning for the Hollywood Farmers Market I’d never heard of Brussels Sprout Crowns. I had already decided to keep an open mind about what I might find because it’s between seasons here. We’ve had both unseasonably warm weather and unexpected chilly days with lots of rain. And that was just in February. In other words, I had no idea what to expect. However, I was determined to pick something this week that I was unfamiliar with – something new to me, something that would necessitate putting my brain in gear. Stretch myself. Grow a little. Try something new!

As I made my way through the market, all the usual pan-seasonal suspects were to be found. I saw great radishes in all sorts of colors. There were greens aplenty and an endless collection of citrus. Oh yeah, and carrots, carrots, and more carrots. There were some nice new potatoes too. But nothing really inspired me. I peeked at sweet green peas in the pod – they tempted me. Not that they are all that original. I cook with peas all the time. Still, when they’re fresh from the market, it’s easy to throw all your other plans out the window. In the end, I decided that the peas were not really peaking, I’d rather wait a few more weeks and be rewarded with perfect peas. Besides, there was that promise I made: Stretch myself. Grow a little. Try something new.

That’s when it happened. I had an A-HA! moment.

My moment came because one of the stalls was featuring what looked like tiny heads of baby Savoy cabbage. Curly green and just frilly enough to look like that corsage you wore to the prom. Generally, I’m a big fan of Savoy cabbage, but my initial reaction to these verdant puff balls was why? Why harvest a lovely head of cabbage before its prime? Why?

And I don’t just mean why baby cabbage, I mean why baby vegetables at all? It seems every market I go to lately is featuring miniature produce at twice the price of life-sized vegetables. For once I’m going to follow President Trump’s lead and blame the Chinese. Weren’t they the folks that came up with the mini corn on the cob in the first place?

I was just about to stalk off when it hit me. I wasn’t looking at baby cabbage I was looking at giant Brussels sprouts. Well, Brussels Sprout Crowns to be exact. These leafy, cabbagelike bundles are the flouncy top of a Brussels sprouts stalk, and they’re edible!

A-HA!

Evidently, until quite recently, Brussels Sprout Crowns were discarded in the fields after harvest or were fed to some lucky livestock. But word is getting out – Brussels Sprout Crowns are becoming one of the coolest vegetables on the plate.

Once I got them home I did a bit of googling. It seems most Brussels Sprout Crowns are treated like other leafy greens and simply sautéed in a hot skillet with good olive oil. But I find the leafy crowns to be quite delicate, quickly softening in the pan. I’ve decided to quarter the crowns, leaving the core intact and butter-braise them into submissive silkiness with oyster mushrooms and (dare I say it) little tiny baby leeks. A-HA! indeed. GREG

Brussels Sprout Crowns Butter Braised Baby Leeks with Brussels Sprout Crowns and Oyster Mushrooms

Butter Braised Baby Leeks with Brussels Sprout Crowns and Oyster Mushrooms

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 8Source Inspired by Gabrielle Hamilton and Thomas KellerPublished
Butter-Braised Baby Leeks with Brussels Sprout Crowns and Oyster Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 2 Brussels Sprout Crowns (baseball-sized)
  • 8-10 baby leeks (about 3/4-inch to 1-inch thick)
  • 1 pound oyster mushrooms
  • 3-4 tablespoon unsalted butter (divided)
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • kosher salt, freshly ground pepper (for seasoning)
  • 3 clove garlic (peeled and chopped)
  • 4 cup chicken stock
  • chopped chives (to taste, as garnish, optional)

Directions

To braise the vegetables: Quarter the Brussels sprout crowns leaving the core intact and leaves attached.

Pull away any tough outer layer until all the leeks are of a uniform thickness. Carefully trim root end from leeks, leaving each leek in one piece. Trim leeks into 6 to 8-inch lengths, then halve lengthways. Rinse under cold water; drain.

Cut the oyster mushrooms into bite-sized pieces.

Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan with a lid over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until the mushroom begin to release their moisture. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and the chopped garlic. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are browned on all sides, about 4 more minutes. Use a slotted spoon to move the mushrooms to a plate leaving as much butter and garlic in the pan as possible.

Add another 2-3 of tablespoons butter to the pan. Once melted arrange leeks in the pan cut side down in a single layer. Cook until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Carefully turn leeks and cook on the other side until softened, about 2- 3 minutes. Season cut side with salt and pepper. Turn the leeks again so they are cut side down and peel off any loose or papery outer layers.

Return the mushrooms to the pan along with the quartered Brussels sprout crowns, use a spoon to drizzle the vegetables all over with some of the melted butter. Let them cook, basting them with melted butter from the pan several more times until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes.

Gently ladle in chicken stock until it covers the vegetables by about halfway (you might not use all the stock). Place the lid on the pan slightly askew so that some of the steam can escape. Cook until everything is fully cooked and there is no raw bite to the leeks, about 30 minutes.

To serve: Using a slotted spoon gently move the vegetable onto a shallow or slope-sided serving plate, keeping the leeks laid out flat and the Brussels sprout crowns intact. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Raise the heat on the sauce to high and reduce it until thickened and velvety, about 5 minutes. Pour the sauce over the vegetables. Garnish with chopped chives (if using) and serve immediately.

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