Thursday, January 23, 2014

Brussels sprouts with green grapes

This is a simple recipe, from Morrison Wood's Through Europe With a Jug of Wine (1964). Woods wrote a food column called "For Men Only" for the Chicago Tribune from 1946 through at least the publication date of this book, and he used both the column and his travels to produce this and two other best selling cookbooks, With a Jug of Wine (1949) and More Recipes with a Jug of Wine (1956).

Through Europe
reflects a near-two year, early '60s sojourn on the continent. Woods and his wife traveled in style, back in the days when wealthy people sailed to Europe, and then spent months at a stretch motoring through Ireland or renting apartments on St.- Jean-Cap-Ferrat, because that winter in France had turned so cold and stormy. His tone grows a little bit monotonous and even prissy sounding at times -- lots of "and then Mrs. Woods and I stayed at this charming old hotel" -- but after all his purpose is to give recipes, and he does that with few frills. Many of the recipes are unusual, and all seem to be primary source documents taken from working professional chefs of the time. If some of the dishes, like spaghetti carbonara, are now standard cookbook fare, it may be because writers like Woods helped make them so.

Brussels sprouts with green grapes is not standard cookbook fare. Woods ate it, he says, in Belgium.

Prepare 1 pound of Brussels sprouts. (Pull the two or three darkest green outer leaves from each. They contain what Madeleine Kamman calls "the offending oils" that make this vegetable too strong for many people's taste. Woods asks you to soak the sprouts in heavily salted water for 10 to 15 minutes before draining them and removing loose or yellowing leaves.)

Bring 1 and 1/2 cups chicken broth to a boil, and then drop in the sprouts. Cover and cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until they are almost tender. Then, stir in 1 cup of green grapes, 2 Tbsp butter, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes longer. Drain off any remaining liquid and serve.

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