January 17, 2005
Velouté de choux de Bruxelles

VELOUTE.JPGDoesn't velouté sound classy? (Doesn't everything sound classier in French?) When you are cooking with something as mundane as brussel sprouts, it's a good idea to make an effort in the name of your dish, as well as its presentation. Their strong cabbage flavor turns off a lot of people, including my Critic. But I had a bag of them in the bottom of my vegetable bin, and after reading about good things to do with sprouts in on the Edible Tulip site decided to try to use them up.

My challenge in this case was to find a way to cook the sprouts in such a way that my dear partner would actually help me eat some of them. That is no easy feat 364 days of the year: he insists on serving them on Christmas so that he can ceremoniously eat one or two, but otherwise hates them.

And so I plumped for soup. Already, it would mean that the little dears didn't look like themselves. I decided the turkey broth I made at Thanksgiving (and froze) would stand up well to the strong cabbage flavor. And for garnish, I fell back on my favorite accompaniments to brussel sprouts, which I hit on some years ago to make them more palatable on Christmas day: bacon, wine and toasted pine nuts.

Actually, I didn't have any bacon and needed to use up some Parma ham and smoked duck, left over from Saturday night's pierrade. But the principle is the same; smoked meats go well with cabbage flavor. (For more information about what a pierrade is, see this post.)

Velouté de choux de Bruxelles

2 cups of brussel sprouts, cleaned and quartered
2 cups of strong turkey broth
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup milk
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp marjoram
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste

For the garnish:
Parma ham or smoked duck or bacon, in any case fried until crispy and crumbled
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

Add the sprouts to the broth and the wine and bring to a boil. Lower to simmer and cook until the sprouts are tender, about half an hour. Use a hand blender or a food processor to liquidize the mixture. (It came out rather thick and velvety, which was the inspiration for my French name.) Add the spices and taste for salt and pepper. Then add the lemon juice and milk and bring back to a simmering heat. Leave to simmer for half an hour or so, to allow the flavors to mingle. In the meantime, prepare the fried ham, duck or bacon and the toasted pine nuts.

Serve in a small, elegant bowl or - barring that - a pretty teacup. Add the garnish just before serving so that it remains crispy, a nice contrast to the velvety texture of the soup.

Note: I used lemon juice and milk mainly because I didn't have any crème fraîche in the house. You could substitute crème fraîche or a combination of sour cream and milk for the milk and lemon juice. A slight sour edge cuts through the cabbage flavor and makes the soup a little lighter and fresher in taste.

Posted by Meg in Sussex at January 17, 2005 1:24 PM | TrackBack Print-friendly version

Yeah, what is it with the English and sprouts? I used to eat them (sufficiently doctored with dairy products, of course) until I got served them for Just About Every Freakin' Sunday Lunch. And on a board I'm on that is about 1/3 British, the sprout haters come out in force before Christmas. Makes me proud to be a 'Murrican. (We have to explain to the poor dears that nobody here feels tradition bound to eat turkey at Christmas, as most of us did the Tradition Bird thing at T-Day, and green beans are a much more traditional side.)

That looks tasty. Of course a bacon garnish covers many sins ;-). Walnuts (and walnut oil) are also a good match with sprouts.

Posted by Charlotte on January 17, 2005 at 3:02 PM

I don't understand it either! It's obviously an emotional issue, though, so I don't fight it! As for my attempt to get him to help me finish the sprouts...he ate all the bacon from the soup, consuming a tablespoon or so in the process. Not an unqualified success!

Posted by Meg in Paris on January 17, 2005 at 4:50 PM

Any way you'll share your turkey stock recipe? Or any other stock recipes, for that matter :)

Happy 2006!

Posted by Inna on December 31, 2005 at 9:40 PM

Inna, I just take the bones from a roasted turkey, cover them with water and bring them to a boil. If there are any old vegetables in the refrigerator needing to be used up I throw them in the pot too, but it's not essential. You can also add any water from vegetables you've cooked - carrots or potatoes for example. If you have any leftover gravy, that's also great. Boil for about 45 minutes and then bring down to a simmer and continue for another hour or two. When the stock is nice and dark and smells good, remove from the heat and cool slightly. Use a colandar placed in a large bowl to strain the bones from the stock and put the bowl in the refrigerator to cool. The fat will rise to the top and solidify as it cools, making it easy for you to remove. You can either use the stock in the next week or freeze it for up to three months. If you do freeze it, be sure to mark on the container or bag what it is and when you froze it.

You can also do this with roasted chickens. I have made some wonderful stock from rotisserie chickens I bought at the market or the supermarket.

Good luck and let me know if you have any questions!

Posted by Meg in Paris on January 5, 2006 at 2:21 AM

Inna, you might also want to check out this post on Tigers & Strawberries about extracting the maximum amount of flavor from your meat:


Hope it helps!

Posted by Meg in Paris on January 10, 2006 at 7:33 AM
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