A member of the Brassica family, Brussels Sprouts are, of course, named after the city of Brussels where they are thought to have originated. There are two main growing areas in New Zealand. The first is Ohakune in the central North Island. It tends to produce smaller sprouts with compact heads These become available early in the season (autumn). The second major growing area is Oamaru in North Otago where they produce slightly larger sprouts using a different sprout variety. Oamaru sprouts arrive later in the season and have a sweeter flavour.
Brussels Sprouts are very good for you because they are a rich source of phytochemicals including glucosinolates, carotenoids and phenolic compounds. They are an excellent source of vitamin C, folate and also a good source of B group vitamins. Brussels Sprouts also contain sulforaphane, a chemical believed to have anti-cancer properties. (Note that boiling reduces the amount of anticancer compounds but steaming and sautéing do not result in significant loss.)
Traditionally Brussels Sprouts are usually boiled or steamed but whatever cooking method you use, they do need to carefully cooked. Overcooking has been responsible for sometimes giving sprouts a bad reputation because overcooking results in the release of high amounts of sulfur that badly affects the smell and taste. So, however you cook your sprouts, avoid overcooking at all costs.
With the addition of butter and bacon, this simple recipe from Annabel Langbein is sure to convert even those who would normally turn up their nose at Brussels sprouts!
1kg brussels sprouts
1 tbsp butter
4 rashers streaky bacon, finely diced
2 shallots or 1 small red onion, finely diced
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
juice of ½ a lemon
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley leaves
Trim and halve brussels sprouts, drop into a pot of boiling water and cook for 3 minutes. Drain, cool under cold water and drain again.
Heat butter in a large frypan and cook bacon over medium heat until fat starts to run (about 5 minutes). Add shallots or onion and cook for about 4 minutes.
Add brussels sprouts and stir-fry over high heat until tender and starting to caramelise (about 5 minutes). Season, drizzle with lemon juice, sprinkle with parsley and serve hot.