Cooking Brussels Sprouts

My friend Jon Trinder has a Love/Hate Brussels Sprout map at, showing all of the responses to the ‘sprout war’ on Twitter [send Tweet to @jontrinder and include the hash tag #uksprouts, add the first half of your postcode and say whether you LOVE or HATE Brussels Sprouts]. Why not have a look and join in over this festive season?

I have provided John with a few simple recipes, which appear at random at the bottom of his sprout map page. Here they all are in one placeMerry Christmas.

Basic Sprout Preparation

Lightly wash the sprouts in cold water. Peel away any dirty or damaged leaves. Trim the stalk (which may only need a ‘shave’).

For most recipes, where the sprout is served whole, it is then advisable to cut into the stalk, to allow more even cooking. Catering students are taught to cut a shallow cross ‘X’ into the stalk, I have always found that a single, reasonably deep cut is enough.

Basic Sprout Cooking

To boil sprouts: You will need a bowl of iced water and a pan of boiling salted water (and your sprouts)

Take prepared sprouts and drop into boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes. Drain the sprouts and place immediately into the iced water until cold. Drain again. This can be done at a quiet time in the day, to save time later. Set aside. When needed, drop the sprouts back into boiling water for up to one minute, drain well and serve (with a knob of butter!!).

Sprout Recipes

Shropshire Sprouts:

Clean and prepare the sprouts. Cut the sprouts into quarters (top to bottom) and cook (sauté) with some small cubes of smoked bacon in a little butter. This should take about five to ten minutes. Remove sprouts (keep warm). Turn up heat and brown the bacon. Drain off the fat, add bacon to sprouts, top with shaved Shropshire Blue cheese – serve.

Sprout Soup

Take half an onion, half a leek, a stick of celery and chop them up roughly. Cook slowly in 50g of margarine or butter (a bit grand!), about five minutes. Add 200g of chopped uncooked sprouts and cook for two more minutes. Add 50g flour and cook two more minutes, stirring all the time. Add 1 litre vegetable or chicken stock and bring to boil. Stir, stir, stir. Season and cook for about 30 more minutes. Now place the soup into a food processor, or use a hand blender (nuke/blitz/whizz). Now adjust the taste/flavour – all being well it will also take a little milk or (preferably) cream. Serve.

Sprout Tourangelle

Now, this is a tasty change. You will need to cook some basic recipe sprouts but first: Make a simple white sauce. Use whatever recipe you prefer, but I would use 50g margarine, 50g flour and 500ml milk to make a bechamel. When the sauce is ready add 2-3 cloves of peeled garlic and leave for 20-30 minutes to infuse. Keep the sauce (and garlic) warm by placing the sauce over (or in) a pan (bath) of lightly simmering water. When ready, remove the garlic cloves and add the sauce to the cooked, drained sprouts. Of course, if you were particularly fond of garlic, you could crush it and cook it in the margarine as the sauce is being prepared. This adds a strange texture to the sauce – but there you go – your choice.

Another way to make the sauce would be to take a quantity of double cream (as much as you need), add the garlic and boil/simmer for 5 – 10 minutes before you need it. This should thicken the sauce and infuse the flavour. Very rich though.

Other ideas:

Take your basic recipe (cooked) sprouts and toss them in some butter with some shelled walnuts. Just long enough to warm the walnuts.

– Add some diced, fried, crispy bacon to the above (or miss out the walnuts?)

– Slightly scary but – why not try puréed sprouts? All sorts of flavours could be added to the ‘mash’

– Sprout bubble and squeak?