The quintessential Christmas dinner veg, Brussels sprouts are throught to have been cultivated in Belgium in the 16th century - hence the name. Although they're related to cabbage - they even look like a miniature, compact version - they have a sweet, nutty flavour, which some people can find bitter. They grow in multiple rows along a thick, central stalk.
Choose the best
Plump, bright green heads (the smaller, the sweeter) with tightly packed leaves. If you can buy them still attached to their long central stalk, so much the better - they'll keep fresh for longer that way.
If the sprouts are still on the stalk, twist each one off, trim any loose, yellow or damaged leaves, wash, then trim the base. Some people cut a cross in the base to make sure they cook evenly but with smaller ones it's not necessary, as it can cause them to go mushy. Larger ones can be cut in half.
To boil, put into a pan with some salt, cover with boiling water, bring back to the boil and cook, covered, for 5-10 minutes. They take 5-10 minutes to steam.
To stir fry, halve or slice finely and cook for about 10 minutes. Sprouts cook very quickly, and if overcooked are quite unpleasant, so test them regularly by piercing with a knife.
In a dark, cool place or the fridge for four days.
Stir-fry in oil with onions and ginger; add cooked chestnuts at Christmas; boil until al dente (firm to the bite), then quickly pan-fry with diced pancetta and chopped garlic.
Brussels sprouts recipes
Long relegated to the Christmas table, Brussel sprouts have a dreadful reputation. Like miniature versions of the common cabbage, they grow on large stalks and have a sweet, nutty flavour, which some people can find too pungent. But, treated with a touch of love and care, these little buds can become a firm winter favourite.
Recipes using Brussels sprouts
By Yotam Ottolenghi
By Justine Pattison
By James Martin
By James Martin
Pan-fried loin of venison with butternut squash, roasted salsify, venison jus with dark chocolate and Brussels sprout salad
By Daniel Galmiche
Light meals and snacks
By Cyrus Todiwala
By Nick Nairn
Brussels sprouts should have tight compact heads and no sign of wilting; the stalks should look moist and freshly cut.
Contrary to popular opinion, Brussels sprouts do not benefit from having a cross cut into the bottom of them. Instead of helping them to cook evenly, the cross can make the sprouts waterlogged. Instead, cut sprouts in half, or just pop them into the pan as they are.
Try Brussels sprouts shredded, either eaten raw in a salad or flash-fried with bacon and plenty of butter or a few spoonful's of crème fraiche. Throw in some chestnuts for a particularly seasonal treat that's a perfect accompaniment to a Sunday roast. Or blanch whole sprouts briefly in boiling water, douse in cream and bake in the oven for a luxurious gratin. Leftovers make delicious bubble and squeak. Mix the Brussels sprouts with mashed potato, shape into little patties and fry until golden-brown. Top with a poached egg for a simple brunch.
Get Fresh and Fruity Brussel Sprouts *, Fresh Vegetables and Class 1 - Great Britain
Brussel Sprouts * from Get Fresh and Fruity Online