We all came with a pair of genes with the roll-off-the-tongue name of TAS2R38, and it provides the code to our bitter flavor receptors. Some copies of the gene make you taste the bitter, some don’t, and if your DNA includes two of the bitter-tasting versions, you probably hate Brussels sprouts. I used to tell people that these Brussels sprouts, caramelized to a dark brown, mellowed with onion, and flavored with mustard, would convert anyone, but I may be wrong about the supertasters.
I adapted this from a version served at clarklewis when Morgan Brownlow was the chef. The cooks there told me to use more butter and mustard than you think you should, and while I’ve switched it to olive oil, the advice still holds.
From the kitchen
If the cut ends of the sprouts are brown and oxidized, trim them, and remove any funky looking outer leaves. Cut them in half lengthwise, then cut them again. The flat surfaces of the quartered sprouts caramelize better.
Heat a heavy skillet over medium high, add 1/4 cup of oil, and when it begins to shimmer, add the sprouts. Let them cook for a few minutes before stirring; you want the cut surfaces in contact with the hot pan long enough to get deeply browned. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the sprouts are nicely browned, about 15 minutes.
Add the shallots along with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and cook for another 10 minutes or until they’re soft. Stir in 1/2 cup of mustard, reduce the heat to low, and cook for about 10 minutes longer.
The ancestor of French onion soup and good stand-in for all-American bread stuffing, panade makes a great side dish or, with a simple salad, a meal by itself.