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Roasted Brussels Sprouts - a bit too 'al dente'

Made roasted brussels sprouts with bacon and shallots for Christmas. Everyone said they were good -- except -- a bit too crunchy or underdone. Since this was my very first attempt at cooking sprouts, I really had no idea on how to test for doneness. Any advice fellow hounds?

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  1. I taste them! You can't really trust times since it depends on their size, your oven temp, etc but my mouth doesn't lie.

    If you don't want to do that use a skewer. You should be able to pierce them with just a little bit effort.

    1. Did you cook them whole? Did you score them first? Cut them in half and steam saute them until tender.

      1. I roasted Brussels sprouts for Christmas dinner, as well. I let them get very dark brown, so they're very caramelized on the outside. By then, the insides are always very tender. I let them go so long, in fact, that my sister actually wandered into the kitchen and said it smelled like something was burning, but they weren't, just getting crispy and sweet.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Mallomary

          You can drizzle a little good balsamic on them. This really brings out the flavor and sweetness in them.

          1. re: Puffin3

            Yes it does but will also increase browning so you have to watch them closely or they will burn sooner than without a sweetened vinegar. Advice to the OP.

            1. re: scubadoo97

              I've burned with balsamic before and now I toss in a dressing/balsamic toward or at the end of cooking.
              Just leaving the sprouts in for a minute too long and the outer leaves can burn and become bitter.

        2. They need to go for quite a while to get really sweet, and I cut them in half first. The balsamic idea is a good one as well. If they are still crunchy they are likely still a bit bitter. It's a battle between al dente and sweet, and I usually vote for sweet.

          You need to make sure all the sulfur compounds are cooked out.

          You could blanch them first, then toss in oil and seasoning, then roast for about 25 minutes or more at a fairly high temp, but there's no substitute for tasting them periodically once you can smell them getting all roasty in the oven.

          Don't skimp on the oil and you might also consider dusting a bit of sugar on them before roasting to help with browning.

          I've actually prepared a video on just this topic which shows how they should look: http://youtu.be/tI4U0FSLHWg

          4 Replies
          1. re: acgold7

            I would definitely blanch or steam first, will cut down on oven time, you can even do this step the day before, get them to 75% done. Finish in oven with your bacon and shallots.

            1. re: cleopatra999

              What I do, instead of getting another pot dirty, I just cover them tightly with foil first on the roasting/sheet pan, before roasting, so they steam for about 10 minutes first. Then take the foil off, and let the moisture cook off and they roast perfectly from there. I also do this with cauliflower & squash.

              1. re: cleopatra999

                I have a different opinion here. I think fully roasted ones taste much better, richer, sweeter and so are worth a few extra minutes. Halved they take less than a half hour, sometimes only 20 minutes ( though I do them whole for about 40 minutes.)

                1. re: magiesmom

                  Agreed. Unless they are tiny I cut in half and roast at high heat, starting with cut side down and then tossing about 10-15 minutes in. Roasted have such a depth of flavor. I feel like you lose something by steaming/sautéing/microwaving first.

            2. i tend to cut them in half, lay them out on foil/parchment, then cover loosely with another piece of foil. i cook them for 15-20 minutes, so that they steam and soften through. then i remove the foil, and cook til they're browned and caramelized to my liking. generally another 10-15 minutes.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Emme

                Covering in foil for a while works well. Otherwise you can halve them. Halving is nice in any case because the flat side gets nice and carmelized.

              2. I also blanch them to help remove some of the sulphur compounds. Then I drain them and either steam saute or saute them depending on how precooked they are from the blanching.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Puffin3

                  Thanks everyone! I really appreciate all the suggestions and look forward to trying them

                2. I halve them, spritz them gently with a small amound of balsamic, then toss them gently with melted duck fat, spread on shallow pan, light sprinkle of sea salt, bake 28 minutes @350. Perfect every time, I have made a meal from them. If you can buy them fresh on the stalk, go for it. Some of the loose ones have been lying around a while, drying out. Cabbages have a long shelf life.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Veggo

                    Oooh, delicious and timely: I happen to have some duck fat and some brussels sprouts waiting to be used. Thanks, Veggo.

                    1. re: Veggo

                      Now that's the ticket. They are so good. I've never understood the brussel sprout hate. Maybe mushy frozen sprout?

                      1. re: scubadoo97

                        scuba, your version of grated brussels sprouts is quite tasty - you should post your recipe.

                        1. re: Veggo

                          Thanks Veggo. Not much of a recipe.

                          Just shred them with a mandoline or knife, tip to stem, toss in with onions or shallots sauteed in your favorite fat. Braise with a little liquid until cooked through but not overcooked. Hit with some acid at the end. Pretty much the same way I would do greens.

                          1. re: scubadoo97

                            Sounds similar to how I do them, when I don't roast them. I like to garnish them with fried capers, so good. I think I may have gotten that recipe from here.