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Brussel Sprouts

Love them, hate them… make sure they don’t get left on the plate

It’s that time of year when we move into Winter, we change menus and change it with Christmas in mind. How can we integrate our menu with the festive menu? What’s in season? How can we link ingredients to control costs? And how can we use sprouts in a way that people will eat them?

The humble sprout has been on our plate and on some cases left on our plate since the 13th century, but a large percentage of the population buy them, cook them, bin them. Why is this? I have asked this question to friend and family with the answer, “they taste horrible, boring and just nasty”.

I remember as a child having the 3-sprout rule on Christmas Day, mushy, bitter things that looked a funny colour. In fact, it was only when I started in a professional kitchen that it turns out that a sprout is green not grey, so the cooking is as important as the quality of the product but it’s also how we finish them that counts. I use the small sprouts they are sweeter and cook more evenly, trim off the outer leaves and plunging into boiling salted water until cooked (don’t cross them, it doesn’t speed up cooking at all) then when cooked perfectly refresh in iced water to stop that cooking.

We now have that perfect sprout. To finish we can re-heat in butter and season with pepper is one of the ways I like to do them or a few ideas below, dare to be different and get our customers to eat them.

Garlic butter & Parmesan – rolling them in garlic butter then finally grated Parmesan.

Chorizo – slice and roast a good quality cooking chorizo until they release that lovely smoky chorizo oil before adding your spouts.

Pancetta – Crisp up some salty Italian bacon. Toss the sprouts back into the pan to infuse with flavour and caramelise.

Chestnuts – Sautéed with cooked chestnuts.

Balsamic– Finished with balsamic syrup works well for sweetness.

Or a few other ways to change them from looking like an everyday spout is to shred them. They can then be used as a slaw or stirred into reduced cream infused with garlic and served with the roast, it’s a great way to do it especially if we are doing big numbers. It gives a base for the turkey to sit on and means you don’t have sprout rolling around the plate.

And with your blanched left-over sprouts I make a Pad Thai for
Boxing Day, they will never get left on the plate.

Kindly contributed by Steve Midgley Consulting Development Chef, 30 years experience in fine dinning, creating fantastic experiences at Michelin star restaurants.

A look at the Fairway Assured Button Sprouts