Top 10 Tips to Get the Most Out of the Humble Brussels Sprout
Dear Wild Cooks,
What can I say, I am a fan and indeed a great believer in the Great British sprout! The Brussels sprout eating challenge as a youngster was always won by my younger sister, Nancy, who would eat far more than my other sister, Georgina, or I could manage put together! She would then spend hours in agony on the sofa!
We like to have our sprouts with chestnuts or bacon but what else can be done?
Here are my sprouting top ten ideas:
Healthy this one is not, but it certainly tastes good!
Brussels Sprouts with Cream and Crumbly Wensleydale Cheese
Method: Simply soften your Brussels sprouts in boiling salted water. Boil up some double cream in a pan and, as it starts to thicken, add your crumbled Wensleydale cheese and season with salt and pepper. Not the healthiest way to enjoy your sprouts but loads of fun.
Oriental Brussels Sprouts
Method: Finely shred your Brussels sprouts and place to one side. Chop peeled garlic, finely chopped ginger and chilli (take care not to rub your eyes!). Fry in a little vegetable oil and add the finely shredded brussels sprouts and toss in the pan until softened. Add some Hoisin or Black Bean sauce and toss again.
This oriental flavour of Brussels sprouts will be a life changer for some of those more adventurous.
Chestnut Crumble with Brussels Sprouts and Tomatoes
Method: Mix together crumbled chestnuts, butter and flour with some oat flakes and crumbled digestives to create an interesting savoury crumble. Gently cook your Brussels until soft. Fry a chopped red onion and add the Brussels sprouts and Italian chopped tomatoes with some fresh tarragon and ground black pepper. Place the Brussels in an earthenware dish and crumble the topping on. Bake for ½ hour until hot and the crumble is cooked and golden.
Pancetta Crisps with Brussels Sprouts and Toasted Pine Nuts
Method: This fun take on bacon and Brussels is a fun dish and really simple to do. The method is simple, pan fry the pancetta and place in the oven for a few minutes to crispen up. Boil your Brussels in salted water and then drain. Place the pancetta and Brussels in a serving bowl, season and add a little butter. The only thing to watch out for is that you need to put the pine nuts on last after they are toasted otherwise they will fall down the side of the Brussels sprouts and be lost for ever!
Getting closer to the ultimate sprouting champion…
A Brussels health kick…Lemongrass Sprouts!
Method: Slice your Brussels thinly and place in a steamer over which has boiling lemongrass infused water (Simply bang the back of a knife onto a stick of lemongrass and place it in the water. This releases a gentle aroma of lemongrass into the Brussels sprouts)
Once steamed, season lightly with sea salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice and finish with some toasted sesame seeds sprinkled on the top.
Sprouts alive! The list shrinks but the Brussels flavour increases…
Brussel Gratin with Parmesan and Breadcrumbs
Method: Not any old breadcrumb dear Wild Cooks but Panko breadcrumbs lightly toasted under the grill. You need to cook your Brussels beforehand in salted water but this way you get a lovely golden cheesy top.
Once your sprouts are cooked simply sprinkle grated Parmesan and Panko breadcrumbs on the top of the Brussels sprouts and grill lightly with some melted butter poured over the top before grilling.
Brilliant Brussels with Bacon and Chestnut
Method: I know it is a classic but that is because it is good and everyone loves Brussels, bacon and chestnuts! Simply soften the Brussels in boiling salted water and then drain in a colander. Fry off some bacon pieces until crispy and then add the softened sprouts and mix throroughly. Add crumbled, toasted chestnuts over the top and a little melted butter and season with salt and pepper- lovely
So close my sprouting buddies. All the obvious ingredients are now gone, what will the Wild Cook pull out of the bag? Yes you guessed it – time to don the wellies and go foraging!
Brussels Sprout Petals with Wood Sorrel
Wood sorrel is everywhere at the moment and the citrus flavour of the sorrel goes well with the Brussels sprout. The best way to serve this is as follows…
Method: Simply soften the Brussels sprouts in some salted water then shell the leaves off the sprouts to leave individual petals of sprouts. Fleck these petals on a plate and sprinkle the wood sorrel over the petals. Serve this with a nice wintery meat such as venison with Brussels, wood sorrel and celeriac puree or brasied brisket with wood sorrel, Brussels, and honey roasted parsnips.
Almost the whole sprout now folks…
Brussels Sprout Puree with Smoked Rapeseed Oil and Ground Ivy (This is an edible wild forager-find, not to be mistaken for Ivy which is poisonous and not to be eaten)
Method: Boil your sprouts until soft enough to puree. A top tip is not to over water the sprouts so they do not loose all there nutrients. Simply puree in a food processor and pass through a fine sieve and add the smoked oil until you are happy with the flavour. Season well.
Brussel Sprouts and Roasted Wood Avens Root
Method: This is a classic. Wood avens root is clove-like in its flavour which is readily absorbed by the Brussels. Crumble some chestnuts in a pan with some homemade sloe gin to reduce into the chestnuts for a real wild flavour of fun. Simply boil the Brussels (Yes I know we have done this a lot in this top ten but it is Christmas!). Using the same pan sauté off your finely peeled and chopped wood avens root, add the drained brussels, a slash of sloe gin and butter. Boil until the flavours are absorbed by the sprouts and season.
A friend of Rudding Park and former employee, Charlotte Gale, sells some great brussels sprout Christmas cards- why not check out her website
I hope one of my top ten takes your fancy so you can “spruce up” your sprouts this Christmas!!!
Happy Brussels sprouting Wild Cooks….