There are myriad ways to spruce up the much-maligned Brussels sprout, but cooked chestnuts are by far the best addition, their sweetness lifting the sprouts’ natural bitterness (and sulphurous odour if overcooked). I also like adding finely chopped rosemary, which means they go as well with lamb, pork and game birds as they do with the traditional turkey.
Other tricks in this recipe that ensure sprout-eating pleasure include parboiling the sprouts, then plunging them into iced water to keep them vivid and perky; adding sprout tops to the mix; sautéing in plenty of butter and seasoning with lots and lots and lots of black pepper.
- Yield: 4 to 6
- 400 g Brussels sprouts
- 200 g sprout tops (1–2 heads)
- 40 g butter
- 4 sprigs leaves rosemary, finely chopped
- 200 g cooked, peeled whole chestnuts, roughly chopped
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Trim any woody bits off the base of the sprouts. If you have lots of different sizes, cut the largest ones in half so they’re a similar size to the smallest. Separate the sprout-top leaves from their stalk, rinse and drain. Cut the 6–8 largest outer leaves in half. You will reach a bud at the top that’s about the size of a golf ball. Cut this in half (it’s the best bit), and ensure you keep any mini sprouts hidden among the leaves.
- Cook the sprouts (but not the tops) in the boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and plunge them into a bowl of iced water or rinse under cold running water to stop the cooking and prevent them from turning dull and sulphurous, then drain them well.
- Place a large pan or wok over a medium-high heat and add the butter. When it starts to froth, add the cold part-cooked sprouts and rosemary. Sauté for 1 minute before adding the sprout tops and 3 tablespoons water. Cook for 3–4 minutes, until the leaves are tender, then stir in the chestnuts and leave the pan on the heat for 30 seconds more. Season with a good pinch of salt and many grinds of the pepper mill. Serve immediately.