Brussels sprouts have a bad reputation, but they still hold a place on our traditional festive dinner menus. The fact is we love to hate them, but why not find a way to love them this Christmas? Follow our tips for tasty twists and never snub a sprout again.
Keep it fresh!
Sprouts develop a more bitter flavour as they get older; be sure the sprouts you’re working with are as fresh as possible.
Cut them up:
- Bite-size chunks: This is especially important when encouraging children to eat their sprouts; make it as easy as possible. Sprouts can be big and hard to chew for children so chop off the stem and cut them in half.
- Lose the bitterness; the core, and the stem especially, holds a lot of the bitter taste as well as being tough – chop it off. Similarly, the outer leaves are quite bitter, so peel them off. Chopping the sprouts in half allows some of this bitterness to be released during cooking.
- Ensure even cooking; the inside of the brussels sprout takes longer to cook than the outside, cutting the sprouts in half, or cutting across into them avoids this problem.
- Soaking sprouts before cooking allows some of the compounds that create the bitter taste to be released into the water, rather than the final dish.
- Balance any remaining bitterness with a sweet glaze, why not get creative and play with the following combinations?:
- For sweetness: try apple juice, honey, maple syrup, dried fruit, brown sugar.
- For added crunch: nuts and seeds (chestnuts, pine nuts, almond slivers, pumpkin seeds), crispy pancetta or bacon (great with thyme), or parmesan breadcrumbs.
- Try a different oil; options include olive oil, garlic infused oil, chilli infused oil, butter, coconut oil.
- Add some flare: balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, blue cheese.
- Seasoning; salt & pepper, nutmeg and butter.
Ways of cooking:
There are loads of options when cooking sprouts depending on how you want your final dish to turn out. Use these tips to ensure they're cooked to perfection.
Roasting is a great option as it brings out the natural sweetness of the sprouts, especially if you're using a thick glaze such as honey or maple syrup.
- You can add brussels sprouts to your usual stir fry to mix up the veg content;
- Cook your sprouts before adding other ingredients; stir fry them for 3-4 minutes.
- Avoid overcooking by chucking them into ice water to ensure they stop cooking
- Cook your other ingredients and then add the sprouts later to heat through
- You can saute your sprouts in butter and cream, for an indulgent treat.
- If butter a cream is a little rich for your taste try the following;
- In a large frying pan, heat oil over medium-high.
- Add prepared brussels sprouts, crushed garlic and season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until caramelized, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Add 1/3 cup stock and cook until evaporated, about 2 minutes.
- Add lemon juice and toss to coat.
Rediscover the potential of this misunderstood festive food and put brussels sprouts back on the menu.
Find more recipe ideas on our recipes page.