There are some foods that we love and some that we hate, or at least *think* we hate, perhaps due to how we’ve had them served to us before and perhaps also because they also get bad press. The food I had in mind when I started to type seems to get a really bad press but has it killed anyone? Not that I’m aware of – unlike peanuts I don’t think you can have a sprout allergy. In fact, the only accusation you might level at the sprout with any justification is that it might make you guff/fart/windy-pop (delete as applicable) if you eat a lot of them.
I’ve always loved sprouts and so has my son, Aaron (aged 7), in fact it’s the first thing he eats on his plate every Sunday lunch!
The knack with sprouts is to cook them properly I reckon. Here are a few pointers before we get to the recipe.
If you insist on boiling them then the rules are thus:
• 8 minutes is probably enough. Over-boiling them makes them soft, wet and tasteless, like any vegetable.
• When you’re peeling the outer leaves off and trimming the stalk, don’t cut a cross into the stalk end, it makes them absorb more water and you don’t want soggy sprouts do you?
• Try steaming them. It takes pretty much the same time as boiling and they retain their flavour better.
• Sprouts like garlic. Try frying them together with some chopped garlic and a little olive oil and then add salt and pepper.
I can’t remember where I first came across this. It may have been in a book by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall or maybe Pru Leith. Hugh’s books are ace as are Pru’s, particularly her Vegetarian Bible. My wonderful girlfriend, Caragh, says this turns something which is inherently healthy into a potential heart attack and she’s a dietitian so I ought to listen to her.
You will need:
A baking dish.
Sprouts – enough for everyone. A bag of them or 3 navvy’s handfuls; whatever measure you’re more comfortable with.
Cream – enough to cover said sprouts. A medium size pot seems to do the job. Single cream is fine.
Breadcrumbs – not those horrible ones in the supermarket though – blitz or grate some bread!
A bit of butter
Salt & pepper to season
Par-boil the sprouts for about 5 minutes then rinse them under cold water.
Rub the baking dish with a little butter and a garlic clove.
Chop the sprouts in half and then press them in a colander to get rid of excess water
Season them with S&P and put them in the dish.
Pour over the cream til the sprouts are covered.
Top with breadcrumbs and blob a few bits of butter on top.
Bake in the oven at 180 for about 25 minutes or until the breadcrumbs look nice and brown and the cream has bubbled up through.
Eat it, with a roast dinner or even on its own with bread and butter!
Make it more healthy by replacing half the cream with milk but it will be more runny.
Make it even tastier by frying a bit of bacon or some lardons and mixing it with the sprouts before adding the cream.
Before adding the breadcrumbs, grate some parmesan over the creamy sprouts
There you go, get cooking, I’ve just improved your Christmas lunch no end, haven’t I?