Crunchy Brussels Sprouts

Crunchy Brussels Sprouts

Adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman and The Victory Garden Cookbook by Marian Morash

Serves 4

1 to 1½ pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed

2 tablespoons butter or extra-virgin olive oil (I use olive oil)

1 clove garlic, smashed

1 tablespoon plain breadcrumbs or 1/4 cup diced pancetta

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves (optional)

Salt to taste

The key to this recipe is not to overcook the Brussels sprouts.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add salt. Add the Brussels sprouts, boil them just until tender. This will take about 4 to 5 minutes for small Brussels sprouts and 5 - 8 minutes for medium. Avoid large Brussels sprouts for this recipe. You really don't want to overcook them because they will get mushy, so test them occasionally with a cake tester. Plunge them into cold - even iced - water to stop the cooking process, drain them well, and put them on a towel to absorb moisture. Cut each sprout in half.

Place the butter or oil in a deep skillet or saucier over medium heat, and add the garlic. Do not let the garlic burn, so be prepared to remove it from the pan if it starts to get too dark. When the butter foam subsides, or the oil is hot, add the sprouts and the breadcrumbs. Stir until hot. If you're using the pancetta instead of the breadcrumbs, add the cubes of pancetta before the sprouts. Stir until the pancetta colors slightly. Then add the sprouts, and stir until hot.

Turn off the heat. Remove the garlic if you haven't already done so, and toss the sprouts with the lemon juice and parsley if you are using it. Season to taste with salt and serve.