Brussels Sprout Off: Aunt Kathy’s vs. Cook’s Illustrated

I am proud to say that since Dave and I have been dating, his palate has become more sophisticated.  He is pretty adventurous when it comes to food, (he even tried pig tail once!), but until recently held on to some childhood food aversions.  Like asparagus (too mushy), cole slaw (too creamy) and Brussels sprouts (again, too mushy).  I feel like it is a common stereotype that all kids hate Brussels sprouts.  But I would hope as they mature, so do their taste buds, and they come to appreciate all a Brussels sprout has to offer.  I asked Dave to consider trying them again after 20 years, and surprisingly, I didn’t have to twist his arm too much.  Now he is a Brussels sprout lover!  Look at that!

So I was excited when I saw a Brussels sprout recipe in the latest issue of Cook’s Illustrated magazine.  Let me clarify, I am a huge fan of America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Illustrated.  I have an online subscription and a magazine subscription. I am even a “Friend of Cook’s Illustrated”, testing recipes currently under development. I don’t think it gets more zealous than that.

Dave’s Aunt Kathy, who is a chef and owns her own cooking school, In The Kitchen, in Haddonfield, NJ, first showed Dave how to roast broccoli with just olive oil, salt and pepper.  This method consistently produces perfectly roasted vegetables, including Brussels sprouts.

So why not test Aunt Kathy’s way vs. the Cook’s Illustrated method?  The recipes were slightly different and I wanted to see if the results would be the same.  Cook’s Illustrated basically steamed the sprouts in the oven for 10 minutes by covering the baking sheet with aluminum foil.  The foil was then removed before roasting for another 10 minutes. I was so disappointed by the outcome. My all-knowing ATK turned out a mushier version (what they described as “tender”) of Aunt Kathy’s.ATK’s is on the left, Aunt Kathy’s on the right.  Can you see the difference?

Conclusion:  Even the most knowledgeable of people, aren’t always right.

Winner:  Aunt Kathy’s Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts, ends cut off, whole or halved
Olive Oil
Sea Salt

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Slather and toss Brussels sprouts in olive oil, til every inch is glistening, in either a bowl or on a baking sheet.  Transfer to baking sheet, if not already using one.  Season with black pepper.

2. Roast in oven for 12 minutes, shaking the pan half way through cook time.

3. Brussels sprouts should be bright green, bottoms caramelized, with some burnt leaves.  Season with sea salt to taste, and serve.


9 thoughts on “Brussels Sprout Off: Aunt Kathy’s vs. Cook’s Illustrated

  1. I LOVE roasted brussel sprouts! I am inspired to make Aunt Kathy’s tonight. Do you think it would be ok to add some crushed garlic? It might keep the Vampires away this Halloween weekend.

    • I think it certainly would be okay! Cook’s Illustrated had variations on the recipe and one was with garlic, red pepper flakes, and Parmesan (I know this is not an option for you). But it basically has you make a garlic oil, then toss the Brussels sprouts with it after they are done. It should give it great flavor, but keeping the Vampires away is more important!

  2. I braise them in a frying pan with butter, then when they are browned I add a bit of water and let them steam as I like them pretty well cooked. I’m going to try your recipe tonight.

    • Let me know how they turn out! If the consistency isn’t to your preference, I can send you the Cook’s Illustrated version, since they are more tender.

  3. I make my brussel sprouts the same as your Aunt Kathy and they turn out amazing every time. In fact, Cinda is making this as a side dish for a Thanksgiving party! And yes, I CAN see the difference!

  4. This is too funny, Melissa! I have long had an aversion to Brussells sprouts too and then tried them at a restaurant in Doylestown a few weeks ago and they were so yummy. So I actually bought some this week and tried to do my own version of what I thought the restaurant had done, baking them with garlic, salt, black pepper, a bit of ginger and olive oil — SO disapointed. But thanks for sharing your recipe. I think heating the oven to 500 may be key, as I only had mine at 350.

  5. Melissa,
    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Brussell sprouts! I am always the one who brings them to potlucks. Thanks for writing about one of my faves!

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