Is there a more polarizing vegetable than Brussels sprouts? To some, they have a nutty sweetness that makes them as irresistible as candy. To others, they are inarguably and repulsively bitter.
According to food science expert Harold McGee, it takes a dual cooking approach to neutralize the flavor. One of the compounds in Brussels sprouts diminishes when they are subjected to a quick burst of high heat. The other dissipates during slower cooking.
Proper seasoning also can make a difference. Tossing sauteed Brussels sprouts with bacon has a miraculous effect. Roasting the sprouts at a high heat with just a little sugar to encourage caramelization is another strategy. Treating them like cabbage -- shredding them and dressing them with an acidic ingredient like lemon juice or vinegar -- also will blunt Brussels sprouts' harsh edge.
According to McGee's cooking advice, the Brussels sprouts are halved and then sauteed over high heat, partially taming them. Then they are spread on a piece of puff pastry and roasted in the oven for a longer period of time, to complete the process. A little bit of balsamic vinegar gives the sprouts a gently tart glaze. And Gruyère cheese blanketing them adds an essential salty element.