Brussels sprout in Brooklyn

Brussels sprout in Brooklyn
server Katy Smail. Five Leaves restaurant Sweet and spicy brussels sprouts: 18 Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn NY (718) 383-5346
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Call ‘em Breuckelen sprouts.

That classically stigmatized vegetable formerly famous for its ability to inspire upturned noses at the dinner table is finally getting the positive press it deserves, in Brooklyn and beyond. That’s right: it’s the year of the Brussels sprout — and any way you slice, dice, quarter, deep fry or sautee it, these miniature cabbages are making their way onto menus at the best restaurants in the borough, and selling out every night.

“We go through a case a day, it’s really amazing,” said chef Jamison Blankenship, whose restaurant Chuko in Prospect Heights is lauded for having some of the borough’s best Brussels sprouts. “We can go down the street and find them on every menu; it’s amazing that the public loves this dish so much, considering Brussels sprouts have never been all that intriguing.”

Primarily cultivated in central California, Brussels sprouts are are loaded with Vitamin C, fiber and anti-oxidants, in addition to having other distinctly healthy properties — a factor some Brussels sprouts purveyors credit for the vegetable’s noticeable increase in popularity over the last six months to a year.

Prime Meats General Manager Bill Mann holds up his restaurant’s version of a simple side of Brussels — with bacon and pomegranate seeds.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

“People are really starting to orient themselves around fresh vegetables, and Brussels sprouts are green and fresh,” said Brooklyn Fare Market General Manager Omar Diallo, who increased his weekly shipment from two-and-a-half cases to five cases beginning in December 2011. “Of every six grocery orders I process now, at least five of them include Brussels sprouts; they’re on lots of menus right now; people just love them.”

Brussels sprouts are one of the most versatile and dynamic winter vegetables — kept company through the chilly months of by the likes of turnips, squash, kale, parsnips and beets, among others —and chefs and restaurateurs are embracing the Brussels sprout renaissance with open arms, and a diverse flavor profile.

“It’s cabbage in a little ball, but it isn’t as tough; its leaves are much more tender,” said Jimmy Clark, chef de cuisine at The Vanderbilt in Prospect Heights, where he’s been serving sprouts since the restaurant opened in 2009. Clark said that sprouts have been a best-seller on the menu since the very beginning, and that the rest of the borough is finally catching on to the craze.

“You can cook them whole, shred them, braise them, make sauerkraut or kimchee, use just the leaves — Brussels and kale you can really do anything under the sun with. And they’re very hip right now; they used to be overlooked because of that childhood stigma. But now, it’s your typical rags to riches vegetable story.”

Vinegar Hill House server Abbie Zuidema cradles a pot full of Brussels with grainy mustard and hazelnuts.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

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