Love them or loathe them, there is no denying that Brussels Sprouts go perfectly with roasted meats and let’s face it, they are a Christmas tradition. If you’re cooking for the first time this year or have family with you that would usually be elsewhere, you might be worried about having these leftover, especially because they are so divisive. The secret is though, much of the reasons why people leave their sprouts is down to the cooking, so we’ve put together these top tips to make even the most devoted sprout hater think twice.
- Choose the right sprouts
When shopping for Christmas dinner make sure to look out for sprouts that are firm and vibrant with closed leaves. If you can, get ones that are still on the stalk, if not just make sure to avoid any that have started to discolour around the edges.
You can find plenty of locally sourced sprouts and other veg at farmshops and delis around the county, so make sure to pop in for the freshest, local veg.
Also be aware that sprouts have a different flavour depending on when they are picked, the smaller ones also tend to be sweeter.
- Correct prep
When preparing your sprouts, rinse them first under running water in a colander and peel any outer leaves that might be damaged. Trim the base, though don’t worry about cutting a cross in the bottom, this doesn’t really do much to the taste or the cooking time. If you have larger sprouts though, cut these in half so you get an even cook.
- The cooking
You can cook sprouts in a variety of different ways – traditionally they are boiled, but you can roast them or pan fry them if you like. You could also cook them in the microwave if you are so inclined.
If you don’t like sprouts because they’re too bitter, this is because of the way they have been cooked – boiling brings out the bitter flavour, roasting brings out a nuttier, sweeter flavour, so choose a method that best suits your tastes.
How to cook sprouts
This is a pretty easy method, especially if you’re already boiling other veg but be careful not to overboil them – this is where much of the hatred towards them comes from.
Start by bringing a large pot of lightly salted water to the boil, add the sprouts and boil for 5 minutes, using a sharp knife, test them, a knife should pierce through but they shouldn’t be soft or soggy. Drain them in a colander and return them to the pan. Add a little butter and season with salt and pepper before serving.
Toss them with oil and season and then roast in a preheated oven at 200 degrees / Gas Mark 6 for around 25 minutes until tender with charred edges. To really ramp up the flavour, you can roast them with bacon and chestnuts or garlic and parmesan or a little balsamic vinegar and honey – the possibilities are endless!
In a pan
Another option is to pan fry them. Add olive oil to a pan and when hot, add the sprouts and saute for around 10 minutes. You could add in flavours like garlic or chili if you like – if you pan fry, make sure to serve immediately.
In a steamer
If you’ve run out of pans or room on the hob, you could always cook your sprouts in a steamer if you have one. Either use an electric steamer or a steamer over a pan of boiling water. Cook the sprouts (with the lid on) for around 8 minutes. Once tender, season and serve.
Top Tip – don’t have a steamer but want to steam your veg? Put a colander over steaming water and cover the top with the lid of a pan!
In the microwave
No judgement here – we don’t all have the time or the space to have multiple pots bubbling away. Simply put the sprouts in a microwavable bowl and add enough water to cover around a quarter of the way over the sprouts. Cover with cling film and cook on high for 5 minutes.
Now you know the secret to creating truly tasty sprouts, no one will leave them to the side of the plate ever again! Are you a sprout hater or a sprout lover? Will you be trying any of these cooking methods? Let us know!