Poor old sprouts don’t get much good press. But recently I have become a devotee. Mostly because Husband adores these mini cabbages and so I have been looking for interesting ways to cook them.
My research has highlighted that you can boil, roast, braise or fry sprouts but my first tip is to steam them. Just for five minutes or so until a sharp knife goes in easily – ie be sure not overcook them. This cooking method has always worked well for me and instead of something soggy, you get sweet, nutty, very slightly crunchy veg which is a delight to eat.
No need to cut a cross in the base btw – if anything it can waterlog your sprouts – just trim the base and strip off an outer leaf or two and you are ready to go.
Try roasting them in a little oil with some crumbled chestnuts, snipped rashers of good quality streaky bacon and a few sage leaves. The flavour is really intensified by roasting and you won’t lose any of the nutrients in the cooking water.
Sprouts with Sticky Shallots
2 tbsp olive oil
3 large shallots and one red onion, finely sliced
2 tspns golden caster sugar
100g raisins or sultanas
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
1kg brussel sprouts
Large handful flaked almonds or pecan nuts, toasted
How to prepare
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and sizzle the shallots and onion for 10 – 15 mins until starting to caramelise. Sprinkle over the sugar, stir well then add the raisins and vinegar. Simmer for 5 mins to make a sticky mix, then set aside.
Steam the sprouts for 7 mins or until tender, then drain well and add to the frying pan and toss everything together. Serve scattered with flaked almonds.
Brussels sprouts gratin with bacon, cream and almonds
900g/2lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed
4 tsp sunflower oil
150g/5oz bacon lardons (or rindless back bacon, cut into short fat strips)
20g/¾oz flaked almonds
400ml/14fl oz double cream
2½ tsp lemon juice
5½ tbsp fresh white breadcrumbs
4 tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper
How to prepare
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
Steam the sprouts for 5 – 10 minutes, until almost, but not quite, cooked. Drain thoroughly, allow to cool slightly, then cut in half.
Place the butter and oil into a wide frying pan over a medium heat. Add the bacon lardons and almonds and sauté for 3-4 minutes, until lightly browned.
Add the sprouts and sauté for a further 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add the cream and bring the mixture to the boil. Boil for 2-4 minutes, until the cream has reduced to a rich sauce. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Remove from the heat, add the lemon juice and spoon into an ovenproof gratin dish.
Mix the breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese together in a bowl, then sprinkle evenly over the top of the sprout mixture.
Place into the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes, until the top is golden-brown and the cream visibly boiling.
Remove from the oven and serve in the gratin dish (when the dish has cooled slightly).
For more Xmas recipe ideas, click here