I can’t remember not liking Brussels sprouts, though I may have suppressed the memory of battles at the table with my mother and father. Since Brussels sprouts are closely related to cabbage I probably liked them from the first taste. I love cabbage.
Overcooking any member of the cabbage family, which besides red and green cabbage includes a dozen common vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy and kale, can result in strong flavors and odors that some people find objectionable. This may explain why some people say, “I don’t like broccoli” or “I hate Brussels sprouts.”
These are people who have not tasted this dish of beef and tender sprouts in a rich gravy fragrant with lemon and caraway.
Jerri found this recipe many years ago in a Better Homes and Gardens Meat Cookbook. Over the years she adjusted the ingredients to suit our tastes. We have served it to friends and even our children, all of whom found it palatable if not one of their favorites. You owe it to yourself to try it.
2 lbs. lean beef
2 T vegetable oil or shortening
1 clove garlic
2 medium onions (about 3 cups)
2 T cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. marjoram
1 tsp. salt plus more for blanching if using fresh sprouts
1 3/4 cups water, divided
3/4 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. caraway seed
1 lb. fresh or 1 ten to twelve ounce package frozen Brussels sprouts
2 T all-purpose flour
1/4 cup water
Frozen Brussels sprouts have been blanched at the factory, so if you are using fresh Brussels sprouts, you need to blanch them. First soak them for about ten minutes in warm water and rinse them in cold water. Remove yellowed or loose leaves and use a sharp knife to slice off any stems.
Bring two quarts of water and a half teaspoon of salt to a boil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven and put some ice water in a large bowl. Add half the sprouts, bring the water back to a boil. After the sprouts have boiled one minute, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the ice water. Repeat the process for the rest of the sprouts. Add ice to the water for the second batch if necessary. Cooking the sprouts briefly and cooling them quickly (called “shocking”) preserves their color and flavor.
Clean and cut the onions in half lengthwise, then cut them crosswise into quarter-inch slices. Mince the garlic clove and cut the beef into 1 1/2 inch cubes.
Heat the oil or shortening in a covered skillet and brown the meat well over medium to high heat. Remove the meat from the skillet, reduce the heat and add the onion and garlic. Cook until the onion is translucent. Stir in the vinegar, paprika, marjoram and salt. Add one and one-half cups of water and return the meat to the skillet. Bring to a boil, cover the pan, reduce the heat and simmer for an hour and fifteen minutes, stirring once or twice and adding more water if necessary.
While the meat is cooking, start a large pot of water heating, wash the lemon and use a kitchen grater to remove the zest.
Mix the sprouts, lemon zest and caraway seed with the meat. Cover the skillet and bring it back to boiling over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for eight to ten minutes.
After about five minutes, blend the flour into a quarter cup of water and stir it into the pan. Continue simmering until the sprouts are cooked. Use a fork to check the sprouts for doneness after eight minutes. They should be tender but not soft.
While you are cooking the sprouts, cook the noodles according to the directions on the package.
Taste and adjust the seasoning of the meat and sprouts and serve over the noodles with a salad and bread.
NOTES: Frozen Brussels sprouts are less work than fresh and seem to taste almost as good in this dish.
Be careful not to overcook the sprouts!
Brussels sprouts grow well in cooler climates, which may help explain why they are named after the city of Brussels, Belgium. Like cabbage, they are good sources of vitamin C and dietary fiber.
“Mon petit chou!” is a French term of endearment. It translates as “My little cabbage” or “My little Brussels sprout.” I may try it and see what happens.