Steve Drake: 5 ways with sprouts
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The Michelin-starred chef from Sorrel in Dorking offers up some alternative ways of serving your Brussels this Christmas and invites you to join him in making the festive season special for those less fortunate
Love them or hate them, the Brussels sprout is a staple of the Christmas dinner, and for good reason. It’s perfectly in season at a time of year when there isn’t so much coming through as winter takes hold.
These wonderful little gems are the envy of the cabbage family. Firmly held together with a compact structure, they burst with flavour. But, like anything, when overcooked they become a misrepresentation of how a Brussels sprout should really taste.
Brussels sprouts were first cultivated back in the 13th century near Brussels in Belgium, hence the name. They are effectively the bud of a cabbage and as part of the Brassica family can be treated very much like cabbage.
Here in Britain we eat more per head than anywhere else in Europe; there are the equivalent of 3,200 football pitches covered by Brussel sprout fields across the UK.
The most common way to cook the Brussels sprout is to boil in salted water, but only for two minutes, I prefer to keep some texture and a slight crunch. Then roll in butter with some cracked black pepper, this takes them to another level. Another nice touch is to add some chestnuts to the pan and mix together.
Or fry you Brussels. Cut the them in half and place cut side down with some olive oil in a frying pan and gently caramelise, utterly delicious. Add some pancetta lardons for some added flavour, the smokiness is wonderful. Boxing day brunch, Brussel sprout bubble and squeak, is one I’m thinking about already.
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However, one of my favourite recipes is creamed Brussels sprouts. Briefly saute some sliced sprouts in a pan and pour in a little cream to bind together.
Alternatively, a healthier option is to slice your Brussels very thin and use in a stir fry - cooking them very quickly with a touch of sesame oil for an alternative side of vegetables.
The versatilely of this wonderful vegetable goes beyond simply boiling and even raw, they taste delicious. If eating raw I suggest slicing very thinly and adding some toasted, crushed hazelnuts, chilli and coriander. Add some orange and chardonnay vinegar dressing, place in a bowl with some raw sliced of salmon and pour on a hot Japanese miso stock or better still a proper Dashi for a fresh and vibrant Asian take on this traditional English Christmas staple.
So why not give your sprouts a makeover this Christmas and help bring the love back for one of the festive season’s most glorious ingredients.
Sorrel can be found at 77 South Street, Dorking RH4 2JU. See Sorrelrestaurant.co.uk for up to date opening times and reservations.
Feed a family this Christmas
Despite living in one of the wealthiest parts of the country, in some areas of Surrey, 25 per cent of children live in poverty so Steve Drake is encouraging Surrey’s chefs and suppliers to come together to gift a hamper, including a turkey and all the trimmings, for families in need this Christmas.
Beaverbook, The French Table, Rare Breed Dining, At Home Catering and Two Many Cooks are already on board but Steve is looking for more local chefs and suppliers to get involved.
“The gap between what we serve in restaurants and what some children will be eating at home is too great and as a result of COVID19, it’s only set to get worse,” he says. “When we heard about Oasis and their Christmas hamper campaign, my wife Laura and I began thinking about how we could make this year extra special by gathering all the fantastic people we know and work with locally to create something truly wonderful for families in need.
“The challenges of this year have given so many a renewed sense of community and an appreciation for what we have and offers of support thus far have been wide-ranging from providing multiple hampers to individual items.”
Chefs, businesses or individuals who would like to get involved can contact Laura Drake for details of how to donate items or the cost of a hamper. Email: email@example.com