In that half-awake/half-asleep limbo of the early morning, one of my nightmares involves my children facing a sinister tribunal. My sub-conscious must have taken the tableau from the Klingon court scene in “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” (for those familiar with the odd number = bad, even number = good system of the original Star Trek movie series, number six was the really good one that came right after the really awful one that was written and directed by William Shatner). In this dark dream, my kids are on a raised platform in the center of an arena that is ringed with several tiers of seating, all of which looks like it is carved out of stone. A judge sits above it all, his face shrouded in shadow, only a single hand clearly visible, wielding a rock as a gavel to quiet the thundering hordes of rabble in the stands.
A prosecutor (still played by Christopher Plummer in full Klingon attire in my dream, go figure) stalks around them accusing them of a conspiracy of galactic proportions. The words are hard to make out in my dreamlike state (and, well, I don’t speak Klingon) but it appears they stand accused of…bringing Brussels sprouts into the world.
On closer inspection, then, the thundering hordes become children of all shapes and sizes, all shouting for blood over this crime. Christopher Plummer sums it all up at one point (translated from the Klingon): “Dudes! You’re making them look bad.”
Yes, my kids love Brussels sprouts and insisted we plant them in the garden. I don’t know when their affair with the little green cabbage started, but it is a passionate one. We recently harvested several stalks worth from the garden and all the while they were saying, “Oh, I can’t believe we’re going to have fresh Brussels sprouts.” They helped clean and trim them and argued that we could eat the entire pile at one sitting, rather than save some for another dinner.
Braising is the preferred method and it does not require a complex list of ingredients. Dice some onion, chop some garlic. Cut the sprouts in half width-wise so they get their braise on. Sautee it all in a skillet until a little color develops, then add a half cup or so of chicken stock and some salt and pepper. Cover and simmer until almost dry. Finish it with whatever fresh herb you happen to have.
Serve and get out of the way. Talk about thundering hordes…
That basic recipe can be dressed up with bacon or prosciutto and become a quick meal if you put it all over couscous or another grain. But, make sure the Brussels sprouts are front and center in the final dish. Or, you’ll find yourself in the bowels of the Klingon penal colony on the ice planet Rura Penthe fighting for your life. Your only hope for escape will be a shape shifter who prefers the form of 70-something, red-nosed, pudgy Bill Shatner to that of a supermodel.
Wake me up, Scotty.