A make-ahead side dish that you can warm up and serve in minutes
Throughout much of the US, markets are loaded with Brussels sprouts right now. That’s because these little buds reach their peak when the weather turns chilly. Once they’ve been kissed by frost, their flavor seems brighter and their texture even crisper.
What to do with all this bounty? Make a hash of it, we say.
Hashed Brussels sprouts are easy to make, and their flavor can entice even the most cabbage-avoidant. Plus, you can do most of the prep work ahead of time, then quickly finish them right before serving. Perfect for a big, multi-dish dinner (like Thanksgiving, just to mention one example).
Still worried that some guests will balk at eating this much-maligned vegetable? Just tell them you’re serving a great new French veggie called choux de Bruxelles. They’ll eat it up.
To make this dish, you just clean the Brussels sprouts and parboil them for a few minutes. Then drain and “hash” them (i.e., cut them up with a knife). You can do these steps hours—even a day—ahead of time. Then just before serving, warm the hashed sprouts briefly in melted butter to finish the dish. Simple.
Parboiling (that is, quick cooking followed by immediate cooling in ice water) locks in green veggies’ flavor, color, and nutrients. Those dull, grey Brussels sprouts you’ve seen? Overcooked. No chance of that happening with this recipe.
There are several methods for making hashed Brussels sprouts, but this is the easiest one I know. My recipe is lightly adapted from one I found in Julia Child’s The Way to Cook.
Prep and parboiling time for this recipe is 20 to 30 minutes (depending on whether you hash the Brussels sprouts by hand or use a food processor). When you’re ready to serve, you just need to heat the cooked Brussels sprouts in melted butter—another 3 or 4 minutes, tops.
This recipe makes 6 to 8 side-dish servings, and you can easily scale it up or down. Leftovers keep in the refrigerator for a few days if stored in an airtight container.
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts
- 2 - 3 tablespoons Kosher salt for the cooking water
- 2 - 4 tablespoons butter (to taste; see Notes for substitutions)
- ½ teaspoon additional Kosher salt for seasoning (or to taste; see Notes)
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)
- garnish of red onion slices (optional)
- Wash and drain the Brussels sprouts. Remove any loose or discolored leaves. Cut off the stem end of each Brussels sprout as close to the body as you can, without detaching leaves. Cut a cross a bit less than ½ inch deep in each stem end (this helps promote more even cooking).
- Bring water to a boil in a large cooking pot—use at least 4 quarts of water (preferably 6). Once the water is boiling, add salt (2 tablespoons for 4 quarts, 3 tablespoons for 6). Add the prepared Brussels sprouts to the water. When the water returns to a boil, cook for 4 minutes. At that point, test a Brussels sprout—it’s done if you can insert the tip of a paring knife into the sprout fairly easily. If not done, boil another minute or two (but don’t overcook!).
- When done, drain the Brussels sprouts, then place them in a large bowl filled with cold water and ice cubes (a tray or two of cubes) to stop the cooking process. When the Brussels sprouts are cooled (this will take a few minutes), drain them. Spread the Brussels sprouts on a kitchen towel or on paper towels to dry.
- Once the Brussels sprouts are dry, use a big knife to chop them until they’re as fine as you want (larger pieces will take longer to warm up later). If you’d prefer not to use a knife, you can instead pulse the Brussels sprouts in a food processor—but be careful not to over process (which will quickly turn them to mush).
- Place the hashed Brussels sprouts in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to serve (later the same day, or the next day).
- When ready to serve, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once the skillet is hot, add butter. When the butter has melted, add the hashed Brussels sprouts and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sauté the veggies until they’re warm and cooked to the degree of doneness you prefer—I like them a bit crunchy, so about 2 minutes is enough for me. For softer Brussels sprouts, cook a bit longer (they may start to brown a bit). Adjust seasoning and serve. An optional garnish of raw red onion slices adds festive color and a nice flavor contrast.
- I prefer to use smaller Brussels sprouts rather than larger ones (I think the flavor is slightly better). But whatever size you buy, make sure the heads are firm when you squeeze them; avoid any that are soft. You should also avoid Brussels sprouts with yellowed leaves or too many loose leaves.
- If you live in an area that sees cold weather, it’s best to buy locally grown Brussels sprouts after your locale has experienced several frosts (because frost seems to sweeten Brussels sprouts, making them even more delectable). Brussels sprouts shipped in from warmer climates probably will not have been exposed to frost.
- We like to use Kosher salt in most recipes. But if you don’t have that on hand, you can use plain table salt (though I’d reduce the amount by about half since table salt is finer and more “condensed” than Kosher).
- You can replace all or part of the butter in this recipe with extra virgin olive oil. But butter has better flavor in this dish, IMO.
- If you like, you can also add half a cup or so of heavy cream to this dish. Right before you remove the Brussels sprouts from the skillet (Step 6), stir in the cream, then heat until warm. This version of the dish is definitely not diet fare, but it’s awfully good.
- I don’t think this recipe needs seasoning beyond salt and pepper. But feel free to add your favorite herb if you like (thyme would be our choice).
- I’ve seen more elaborate recipes for hashed Brussels sprouts that add poppy seeds or black mustard seeds, along with lemon and garlic. Sounds interesting, but this basic recipe is so good we haven’t felt the need to tinker with it.
- The raw red-onion garnish is strictly optional. It adds nice flavor and looks pretty, but this recipe is also great without it.
- If you really like red onion, you can cook some and add it to this dish—it goes nicely. Simply dice a medium red onion, then add it to the melted butter at the beginning of Step 6 before you add the Brussels sprouts. Sauté the onion until it’s soft (about 8 minutes), then add the Brussels sprouts and proceed with the recipe. BTW, if you go this route, you’ll probably want to increase the amount of butter you’re using by a tablespoon.
- You can hash almost any veggie you can think of. This method also works particularly well with broccoli.
Sprout. Brussels Sprout
“Wow, I thought your Roast Brussels Sprouts were the best,” said Mrs K R. “But these might be better. Gorgeous color—and flavor.”
“And to think I used to hate Brussels sprouts when I was a kid,” I said.
“Me too,” said Mrs K R. “That’s because back in the day, everybody boiled them into submission for hours. Or so it seemed.”
“It’s amazing how that’s changed,” I said. “Now veggies are often the best part of the meal. And Brussels sprouts have become one of my faves.”
“So I guess it’s revenge of the Brussels sprout,” said Mrs K R. “Hey, that sounds like a promising story idea, don’t you think?”
“Yeah, we could turn it into an action flick!” I said.
“Too bad Daniel Craig is occupied with other projects,” said Mrs K R.
Ah, well. His loss.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Roast Brussels Sprouts
Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Hot Bacon Dressing
Roast Sweet Potatoes
Cranberry Relish with Jalapeño
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Or check out the index for more recipes