The Key To Perfect Skillet Brussels Sprouts Starts With Chicken Stock

Brassicas encompass a broad range of green, cruciferous vegetables from cabbage to broccoli to collard greens. While most brassicas are known for their hearty, fibrous texture and distinct bitter bite, Brussels sprouts arguably offer the most robust flavor profile of them all. The key to unlocking their richness lies in how you cook them. Roasting Brussels sprouts will create a nice crunchy exterior and a caramelized enhancement of their savory and bitter flavors. However, you can achieve an even more delicious flavor and texture without turning on your oven.

A hot skillet and chicken stock are the secret weapons you need to upgrade your Brussels sprouts. A piping hot oiled skillet will effectively sear the Brussels, resulting in a browned, caramelized flavor. The addition of chicken stock will finish off the cooking, instilling a comforting savoriness and a tender, juicy texture. This combination of dry and wet cooking methods is known as braising. Skillet-braised Brussels sprouts offer the perks of caramelization and browning you'd want in a sear or saute as well as the soft, juicy consistency that steaming delivers. Chicken stock not only helps steam the Brussels for that lovely tenderness but also infuses them with umami-richness, tempering their notoriously bitter finish.

How to braise Brussels sprouts and maximize flavor

Braising is a popular method for meat and vegetables alike. Tasting Table provides a recipe for braised fennel that you can use as a blueprint for braising Brussels sprouts. The cooking process starts with the dry method of either searing or sauteing, heating a generous helping of oil or butter before adding your Brussels sprouts. While you can braise Brussels sprouts whole, cutting them in half exposes their fibrous interior while also providing the opportunity for browning.

To brown the Brussels, place them cut side down in the pan and leave them for a few minutes to acquire those crispy, charred edges. You can add aromatics and spices to fry before pouring a shallow layer of chicken stock into the skillet. It's important not to completely submerge the Brussels with chicken stock because you want them to steam covered at first, then uncovered for a minute or two to absorb all of the aromatic vapor.

If you want to add even more umami richness, you can fry bacon, pork, or chicken cracklings, using the residual grease as the sauteing fat for your Brussels and the fried meat as a decadent garnish. Just as pork is a classic addition to brassicas like collard greens and cabbage, it'll also pair well with Brussels sprouts. For a vegetarian twist, you can use a mixture of butter and olive oil to sear the Brussels sprouts and swap chicken stock for an ultra-savory mushroom stock.