Today was great with discovery. I have wanted to figure out the functional viability of brussel spout stalks. Aki has cooked up broccoli stems and has me trained not to get rid of them no matter what. I have seen cauliflower stems used in dishes at Alinea and McCrady's. Yet I was curious about the large stalk which brussel sprouts grow from.
I spent the morning in the city at the green market. I picked up a number of great ingredients from sunchokes and wild watercress, which I have somehow lost, to brussel sprouts sold on the stalk, my initial reason for going to the market. When they sell the sprouts on the stalk, there are some beautiful specimens as well as a number of sprouts which have gone past their prime. The variety in quality did not deter my want and need for procuring the brussel sprout stalk.
When I returned home I trimmed the sprouts off the stalk and then watched my knife bounce off the stalk itself. What the heck had I gotten myself into? I then pulled out a serrated knife and tried to cut through the stalk. When I was halfway through the stalk I tried to break it. Silly me. Now my leg is bruised. I used the knife to cut all the way through the stalk and what I found was well worth the effort. The center of the brussel sprout stalk is tender and a mirror image of bone marrow. As it turns out I was cutting through brussel sprout bones. So, we cut the stalk in several different ways and then pressure cooked the pieces to tenderize the vegetable marrow.
After ten minutes in the pressure cooker what I imagined as vegetable marrow had the silky rich decadence and texture, without the fatty quality, of true bone marrow.
I am not sure how we will use this marrow, though a dousing of anchovy butter and some grilled toast would not be a bad place to start. I suppose we will also look at traditional methods of serving and preparing marrow and adapt them to our brussel sprout marrow.