A bit of Twitter banter last week left me with a residual and actually quite acute craving for sprouts. Yes, brussel sprouts, that green you’re conditioned as a child to dislike and ridicule above all others, pull faces at the mere mention and god forbid you ever dare actually taste or admit (horror) you might even like. The poor dish at Christmas that’s as compulsory as it is shunned. I’ll admit that as a fussy child I didn’t touch much greenery and sprouts were as demonised as much as an extensive list of other food stuffs.
I’ve learnt to love these humble brassicas as I have most veg over the years. What’s not to love? They’re cute miniature cabbages! I’m fairly sure I’m not alone however, in rarely eating them other than at the Christmas dinner table, where I always fry them with garlic, pancetta and chestnuts, and then wonder why I don’t eat them more frequently. Then quickly forget. *blank fish like face*
Oh. But then I ate them at the lovely Mishkins last Winter, pickled and deep fried, served with a garlic dip, and I suddenly started to see them in a different light. It was talk of these, and other sprout dishes that prompted the craving that has meant that I’ve been eating them in various guises all week, giving in wholly until I’m sated, which will be soon I hope, as the kitchen is starting to develop a certain cabbagy aroma….
So. I started off on Monday healthily, as I often do, my week beginning virtuously, will often descend into drunken deep frying by, well, surely no early than Tuesday….so this salad did the trick, satisfying that early week, wholesome quota; finely sliced brussels (make sure you chop off stalky bits and peel away outer leaves) are tossed with sour cherries, sliced toasted almonds and finished with a lemon and olive oil dressing. I wanted to stay resolutely away from any festive connotations for these dishes, but swapping almonds and cherries for cranberries and pecans would make a great dish for a thanksgiving or Christmas table if that *is* your want.
Yes, Tuesday had me giving in to the deep frying urge, it’s been too long my old friend, I tried them two ways; battered and nude. Sprouts deep fried in the nuddy are alarming to to cook as they explode in the basket, looking fully as though it’s gone horribly wrong and all the layers have come apart. Persevere as it’s not as bad as it looks, some leaves will have come away from your sprouts, but the flavour is deeply nutty and, I reckon, worth the retracted health benefits frying brings, they also look beautiful, frilly around the edges, and burnished. For this dish I simply chucked halved sprouts into the fryer with quartered shallots, then tossed with seasoning and a couple of rashers of chopped candied bacon.
Next I wanted to try them battered a la my Mishkins epiphany. I simply halved sprouts as before then dipped them in a simple batter enriched with grated parmesan and fried for about five minutes. The beauty of this dish is that the sprouts retain their gorgeous green layers and a little bite within their golden case. They’d make a great and unusual canape or snack, with or without a dip.
Wednesday I had some leftover slow cooked brisket (I’m lying. I never have leftovers. I cooked the brisket on Tuesday and MADE SURE I left some for tonight) and the obvious thing to make was a sort of hash or bubble and squeak type cake. I sliced sprouts and fryed with finely sliced shallots and garlic, then mixed with mashed potato and shredded brisket. Formed into even sized cakes, I dipped them into seasoned flour then shallow fried in oil
for around three minutes each side. Topped with a fried or poached egg they may not be pretty but sure make a satisfying brunch or dinner.
Oh. Go on then. I know you want me to….
I give you my take on a festive doughnut.
That’s right. A sprout doughnut. I added a little stilton to my regular doughnut dough, then filled with a caramelised mixture of sprouts, bacon, shallots and chestnuts, then tossed in a mixture of caster sugar and vanilla salt.
Ta da! What do you think?