Any suggestions on how to cook brussel sprouts still on the stallk? I'm told when roasted the stalk becomes very tender. But how do you clean it?
It would be a rare Brussels sprout stalk that became tender when cooked. But if you wanted to try to eat it, I'd still recommend removing the sprouts and cooking them separately. Then, the stalk would be easy to clean, trim, cut into pieces, and roasted. Whether it would taste anything but woody is another question! But good luck to you. Be sure to report back.
First, take a machete. . .or one of pierino's knives, or an industrial wood chipper. Supposedly, there's a recipe floating around out there for Madhur Jaffrey's curried brussel sprout stalks, but I haven't found it either in her cookbooks or on the Internet. Who told you that brussel sprout stalks were edible? Wrong, wrong, wrong. But don't let me stop you from trying, because I want to be wrong. I grow brussel sprouts and would love to eat more of the plant and have less garden waste. Alas, not even pests eat the stalks.
Wrong #1: When you purchase sprouts still on their stalk, you should notice that the sprouts are different sizes--depending on the length of the stalk, you'll have small, medium and large sprouts. If they are roasted all together on the stalk, you'll end up with Goldilocks food (the large sprouts would be too hard, the medium sprouts just right, the small sprouts burned). Cut or snip the sprouts from the stalk and sort them by size into piles. Cook each size separately, and adjust the cooking time accordingly. Use any teeny tiny sprouts uncooked in slaw.
Wrong #2: If the sprouts on the stalk are all the same size, it probably means that they are a variety bred to mature all at the same time. These hybrids were developed for the convenience of growers, not for the taste buds of consumers. You might as well pick just as many as you need from the bulk bin at the grocery. These modern sprouts are not bad, and I'm not knocking them--it's just that if you have a choice between an heirloom variety or an F1 hybrid, take the heirloom. If you insist on roasting them whole on the stalk: Remove and discard any plant leaves; Inspect the sprouts closely and remove any bruised or yellowed outer leaves from each sprout; Rinse and pat dry; find a roasting pan big enough to accommodate the entire plant; brush or spray it with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; roast at 425 degrees F for at least 20 minutes, checking for tenderness every five minutes after that, turning the unwieldy and hot plant several times. Check for tenderness in the sprouts, not the stalk.
Wrong #3: The reason you check the sprouts for tenderness instead of the stalk is because it might take days before the stalk becomes tender enough to eat, in which case the roasting would have vaporized the sprouts. If you really, really want to eat the stalk, I think braising would be a better cooking option, but I warn you: there's a reason my stalks go into the compost pile each winter. I have to use lopping shears, the tool I use to trim tree branches, to cut the stalks into manageable decompose-able pieces.
And yes, please, report back. It could be that I'm an exaggerating fool and that you have discovered a tasty and fiberfull superfood.
Reporting back! First off I cut the Brussels sprouts off the stalk. I didn't feel right eating them without cleaning and Trimming them first. I ended up roasting them with salt, pepper, olive oil and bacon fat. Then finishing them off with crumbled up apple wood smoked bacon. Yum!
Now onto the stalk. I was truly curious as to how this would taste so I took the time to peel off all the hard and stringy skin on the stalk and cut them up and roast them with the rest of the sprouts. Taste wise they were quite similar but had a different texture, that of a broccoli stalk. Personally I don't think I'll ever take the time to prep and cook stalk again. It's a lot of work and unless you have a sharp peeler it's quite difficult.
Thoughts - try it out! It's a bit time consuming but it's a great way to add new flavors and textures to your basic sprout dish! Happy cooking!