Brussels sprouts are amongst the few veg that create a strong love them or loathe them divide. But, if you choose small firm sprouts with fresh green outer leaves and you cook them lightly, until just tender, they have a lovely sweet and nutty flavour. Sprouts are said to have the best flavour if picked after the first frosts.
If cooking large sprouts it’s best to cut them in half to avoid the outside becoming overcooked and the centre underdone. Alternatively, they can be shredded and stir-fried with a herb or citrus butter for just a minute or two just to soften them but retain a slight crispness and keep their bright green colour.
Brussels sprouts are a traditional veg on the Christmas table and go really well with all roast meats particularly turkey and chicken. Lightly cook and toss them with cooked chestnuts and some crispy bacon pieces for a festive touch.
To ensure even cooking, cut a small cross in the stalk end of each sprout. This allows the boiling water or steam to help cook the centre at the same time as the outer leaves. Small sprouts will only take about 5 mins. Overcooked sprouts will lose their colour, have a mushy texture, strong smell and slightly bitter taste so it really is worth not letting them overcook.
Around Christmas time you’ll see sprouts for sale on the stalk. Keeping them on the stalk is supposed to keep them fresher for longer, but once the stalk is pulled from the ground they will start to deteriorate so the best thing is to buy them little and often.
- 700g sprouts
- Knob of butter
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Trim a thin slice off the stalk end of each sprout and remove 2 or 3 outer leaves. Cut a cross in the stalk end just deep enough to cut the surface.
Place in a saucepan, cover with boiling water from the kettle, add a pinch of salt, cover and cook for 5 mins until just tender when pierced with a sharp knife. Alternatively, place the sprouts in a steamer over a pan of boiling water and steam for 5 mins.
Drain thoroughly, tip into a serving dish and top with a knob of butter and freshly ground black pepper.