There is an epicurean battle being waged in Kent County over Brussel sprouts. Maybe not a battle, but a match off between professional rivals and close friends Steve Quigg of The Kitchen at the Imperial in Chestertown and Barbara Esmonde of Barbara’s on the Bay in Betterton.

Crispy Brussel Sprouts topped with Truffle Parmesan aioli from The Kitchen at the Imperial.

Brussels sprouts are from the  Brassica family and share relatives such as broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, kale, and kohlrabi. It’s genetic ancestors were cultivated by the ancient Romans. Brussel sprouts and other Brassicas were introduced to Northern Europe in the Fifth Century.  Cultivation started near Brussels in the 13th Century.  Today, the Netherlands, Mexico and the United States are the top exporters. The British match the production in the Netherlands, but most is retained for domestic consumption.

If you have grown up with Brussel sprouts, hopefully you have come to appreciate the savory, almost nutty flavor that explodes when cooked to crunchy perfection. For those who remember soggy, bitter green mini-cabbage balls, you are in for a treat.

Steve Quigg reintroduced the Brussel sprout to local dining fare a few years ago. If you have Brussel sprout phobia, fear no more. His Crispy Brussel Sprouts are flash fried and quickly take on a crispy, roasted texture. Just as fast they are being seasoned and topped with a drizzle of Truffle Parmesan Aioli. The outcome is a crispy treat that holds its crunchy texture.

Barbara’s on the Bay’s version of Crispy Brussel sprouts tossed in Balsamic reduction and garlic cream topped with pork belly.

Barbara Esmonde has a different take on crispy Brussel sprouts. They are fried to crispy perfection then tossed in a balsamic reduction and garlic cream and topped with pork belly smoked on site. My dining spies give Barbara’s recipe a thumbs up.

Both Quigg and Esmonde are fans of  the Brussel sprouts flavor. You start with a tang of sort that improves with the high oil heat and savory seasoning. And they are good for you. Crispy Brussel Sprouts make a great group starter or side order to share at the lunch or dinner table. Visit The Kitchen at the Imperial and Barbara’s on the Bay and tell us how the Brussel sprouts compare.