Embrace your Sprouts! Brussels are for Winter – not just for Christmas!

Hello hello hello

I know what many of you may be thinking; you hate brussels sprouts.  They’re soggy and bitter and the bit of your Christmas day lunch that your mum always forced you to eat “because it’s tradition”.  And because it’s tradition and you got some for Christmas day, you’ve got loads leftover (possibly raw, because you could only buy an enormous sack full of them).  I, on the other hand, am a big sprout fan.  This does not, however, stretch to enjoying the standard mass-produced chain-pub Christmas-party-menu sprout with which we have become (unfortunately) all too familiar.  You have to treat sprouts with respect, and they’re easy to cook, providing you follow some simple rules:

Just in case you've never before seen them before they were packaged in a plastic bag...

  1. Choose little sprouts.  They’ll cook more quickly, and are younger and sweeter than the big ones.
  2. Don’t boil them for 500 years until all of the taste and vitamins have disappeared into the water.  Small, fresh sprouts only need a max of 5 minutes on the stove top, so leave them to the last minute before serving.  I have to confess to having failed in this aspect when I cooked for our friends a couple of weeks ago, owing to gravy-related stress, but suggest that you do as I say, not as I do😉  Besides, they were still fairly nice because I had followed rule two…
  3. Peel your sprouts.  My friends laughed at me for this.  Surely you just tip them from the packet into a pan, or at the most put a cross in the bottom (this is another story entirely)?  But you wouldn’t eat the skanky old leaves on the outside of a cabbage, so why do so with your sprouts?  Take off the dark green outside leaves, which are the bitter part, leaving you with the pale green yummy inside bit.  As the sprouts are now smaller, they’ll also be even quicker to cook.
  4. If you’re bored with them, jazz them up.  Tons of chefs now advocate frying them in butter with bacon or chestnuts or even (I shudder at the thought of this) peeling off each individual leaf to blanch them!  There are more ways to eat sprouts than sitting next to your turkey, so be a bit adventurous.  Think about how you’d use cabbage, and take inspiration from that – you can even have them raw, as a salad vegetable if you so desire.  People do all sorts of things with other veggies, but often seem stuck in a rut with sprouts.
  5. Cross the bottoms if you like, but it’s not necessary – just chop off the little stalky bit where they attach to the plant.  The idea is that the inner leaves cook quickly so that they don’t have to stay in the water for as long, but this can just as easily lead to them becoming waterlogged, and if you’ve chosen little ones (and peeled them too) you don’t need to worry – they’ll cook nice and quickly anyway.
  6. The best way to store sprouts for any length of time is attached to the stalk – they stay fresher (and therefore yummier) this way. It’s become increasingly simple to buy them this way, even in supermarkets – all you have to do is snap off your baby cabbages just before prepping them.

And if all of the above fails, I guess I’ll just have to resign myself to the fact that some people just don’t like them, in the same way that some people just don’t like chocolate.  But that’s no good excuse not to eat them!  According to this website they could be a cancer-curing superfood and after all, it is tradition…

Lots of love,

Gemma xx

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