Endless sprouts. And a joke.

At this time of year Brussels Sprouts are ubiquitous. As are leeks and all things dark green. But if you love those dark green flavours this is absolute heaven, as the greens can take all sorts of flavours.

So don’t just boil them! Try this:

Fry small pieces of smoked pancetta until the fat is rendered (translucent) then add 100g vacuum packed chestnuts. Cook for a further 5 minutes. Allow to cool then put in a blender with 250g butter and whizz.. Add a little black pepper and whizz again. Now simply put all of this in an airtight container and on Christmas day, prepare your sprouts as normal, but slather them with bacon and chestnut butter when they are drained. I could eat a plateful all on its own! The butter should keep for 4-5 days in the fridge. Try it on bread with peanut butter. Naughty but nice.

Because they have quite a bit of sugar, sprouts will char easily. Which means that if you peel and quarter them and then stir fry in a little vegetable oil with some chilli flakes, they will caramelise and taste really nutty.

Hetty has a brilliant way with sprouts. I don’t know if it’s Dutch (she is) but when we spent Christmas in North Norfolk with Het and John a few years ago I tasted this for the first time. Boil your sprouts as you would normally, drain them well and then mash them – not too mushy – then add cream, black pepper and nutmeg and turn into a dish. The sprouts that is, not you! Divine.

Finally. Is there anything better than left over cold roast potato, mashed potato and left over sprouts in bubble and squeak? Imagine this. Before you go for a long walk on Boxing Day, mash all the potato and left over sprouts together with lots and lots of black pepper. Put some good sausages in a small roasting pan with some wedges of onion and a little olive oil.

Now go for that walk to clear away the cobwebs and the hangover. When you come back put the sausages in a hot oven just as they are. Meanwhile put a good heavy frying pan on the hob and add a generous glug of golden rapeseed oil and heat till almost smoking. It is worth it – if you can bear it – to NOT use a non stick frying pan. And I’ll tell you why. You want it to stick!

Throw in the bubble and squeak and press it down. Now leave it until you can smell it charring. Don’t be scared. It adds flavour. After 10 minutes, release the edges from the edge of the frying pan and gently slide a palette knife underneath. Invert the whole thing onto a plate. Add a little more oil, then repeat, sliding it back into the pan, uncooked side down.

Now check your sausages. They should be almost done. Turn them over. Pour the rest of yesterdays gravy in with the sausage and onion and a tablespoon of wholegrain mustard. Put back into the oven until the gravy is hot. Now the bubble and squeak should be crispy on the underside too. Slide it out onto the plate. Put the pan with the sausage and onion gravy on the table, along with the B&S, HP sauce and a glass of beer. Cut the B&S into big wedges and serve with the sausages. Start as you mean to go on!

Now here’s the joke…

1) boil Brussels sprouts
2) eat Ferrero Rocher whilst sprouts are cooking
3) save wrappers
4) melt chocolate whilst sprouts are cooling
5) roll sprouts in melted chocolate
6) wrap chocolate covered sprouts in Ferrero Rocher wrappers
7) enjoy the delight on the children’s faces tonight

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