Seven ways with Brussels sprouts

Seven ways with Brussels sprouts

by Great British Chefs 7 November 2016

Does the smell of Brussels sprouts boiling on the hob make you want to run a mile? Discover the different ways you can prepare, cook and serve these bite-sized brassicas and gain a newfound love for this vibrant winter vegetable.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews as well as access to some of Britain’s greatest chefs. Our posts cover everything we are excited about from the latest openings and hottest food trends to brilliant new producers and exclusive chef interviews.

Past generations of British cooks have done many vegetables a bit of a disservice. As a nation, we had a reputation for taking ingredients and boiling them until they were a soft, flavourless mush – a cooking technique that has a particularly unpleasant effect on Brussels sprouts, meaning they quickly became one of the least liked elements of the classic Christmas dinner.

Over the past few decades, however, we’ve transformed into a nation of foodies, and our skills in the kitchen have increased tenfold. By cooking Brussels sprouts in different ways, pairing them with other flavours and generally giving them the respect and treatment they deserve, we can do them justice. If you still wrinkle your nose at this seasonal vegetable, try cooking them in one of the following ways and see how delicious they can be.

1. Roast Brussels sprouts

There isn’t actually anything wrong with placing Brussels sprouts into a pan of boiling water – so long as they’re not left in there for more than a couple of minutes. This softens them just enough in the centre without leaving the outer leaves mushy and tasteless. Cutting a shallow cross in the base of each one will help them cook even more, and refreshing them in iced water afterwards halts the cooking process, allowing them to retain their vibrant green colour.

Once your sprouts are par-boiled, they can be cooked in a number of ways. Roasting them in a 200°C oven for half an hour will leave you with crispy, caramelised sprouts with a slightly crunchy centre. Simply toss them in a little oil or butter and season, then place them in a roasting tray until golden-brown.

2. Stir-fried Brussels sprouts

You can also stir-fry Brussels sprouts once they’re par-boiled and refreshed in iced water. This saves precious oven space (which is always in short supply when preparing a Christmas dinner or Sunday roast) and takes around fifteen minutes. Use plenty of butter and cook over a medium-low heat, stirring regularly until the sprouts are nicely browned, then season and serve.

3. Shredded Brussels sprouts

The iconic shape of Brussels sprouts is perhaps why they’ve become such an important part of the Christmas dinner, but they can also be shredded or finely sliced if you’re after something a bit different; they don’t have to be par-boiled beforehand and absorb other flavours more easily. Leave your shredded sprouts to soak in cold water for five minutes to soften them up, then drain and add to a pan over a high heat with a little oil. Pop the lid on and leave them for around ten minutes, stirring occasionally until soft.

4. Deep-fried Brussels sprouts

The crunch of a properly cooked Brussels sprout is one of the best things about them, and deep-frying is the best way to bring out their texture. Heat a flavourless oil to 180°C, then fry the sprouts (halved if large) in batches for around three minutes until they begin to brown. Toss in lemon juice or a dressing of your choice, then serve. As well as being a great side dish, sprouts cooked this way are so tasty they can be eaten as a delicious snack.

5. Brussels sprouts with pancetta and chestnuts

One of the most common ways of serving Brussels sprouts is with pancetta (or bacon lardons) and seasonal chestnuts, adding bags of flavour and different textures. Simply par-boil the sprouts, then fry the bacon or pancetta over a medium heat to release the fat and crisp up the meat. Chop up a bag of vacuum-packed chestnuts and add to the pan along with the sprouts, then toss and stir-fry until caramelised.

6. Brussels sprouts with balsamic vinegar and honey

Another tried and tested flavour combination is Brussels sprouts with sweet honey and tangy balsamic vinegar. Once the sprouts are par-boiled and refreshed in iced water, dry them thoroughly and toss them in a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and a few teaspoons of honey. Season, then roast in a 200°C oven for thirty minutes and serve.

7. Brussels sprouts with Parmesan

Add a welcome hit of umami to a roast dinner with Parmesan-roasted Brussels sprouts. Halve the sprouts and lay them on a large baking tray. Add lemon zest, salt and pepper, then drizzle over a little oil and toss to coat. Roast for fifteen minutes in a 220°C oven, then stir and sprinkle over a few handfuls of grated Parmesan. Return to the oven for another ten minutes until the cheese turns golden-brown and the sprouts are cooked through.