Monday, 3 January 2011
Christmas has been and gone, so perhaps I'm a little late to be talking about brussels sprouts, but they are still in the shops, to be bought by lovers and now at last allowed to be ignored by the haters. However, I happen to love them.
"I'm not eating those – they're disgusting!" "Gross – they look like giant bogies!"
Being that time of year again, children all over Britain were likely to be heard making these exclamations against the brussels sprout.
For any of you out there who hate them, I'm not about to try and make you acquire a taste for these mini brassicas, but I am in support of them. I've alway liked sprouts, even when I was a kid. Maybe I was a weird child, although I didn't like the ones served up at school or any others that were over cooked to a stinky yellow mush, by anyone else for that matter. My Mum, however, has always cooked them to perfection and maybe that's why I've always enjoyed them, when they've been treated with some respect of course.
Sprouts can be bitter, but I have heard the flavour becomes sweeter after they have been exposed to a good frost. We've had some pretty cold icy weather lately, so that means they are exceptionally delicious, well at least the ones that the farmers managed to save from the fields.
I like to cook them lightly so that they retain a little bite to them. I also now avoid cutting a cross in the bottom too. Sorry Mum, I know that's how you've always done it, but I've since learnt that the cross allows water into the sprout and can make it soggy if you're not careful.
To anyone who still has an aversion to brussels, they can be tarted up by tossing them in butter with some small pieces of crispy pancetta and roasted chestnuts. Both of these add a sweeter dimension that can take off the bitter edge.
Of course brussels aren't just for Christmas dinner – they're also great when finely sliced and added to Chinese stir-fries. You could stir them into mashed potato to make bubble and squeak too.
Photo: ©childsdesign 2010
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