Sprouts with a Makeover



Sprouts are such a controversial topic. Whether you truly hate the unique taste or you have simply had their unfairly stereotyped reputation brainwashed into you as an impressionable child. Sprouts are very bitter by nature and this is accentuated with the cooking time. This I painfully discovered after using a few of the festive leftovers in a gratin last year along with some freshly boiled ones. The unlucky guests to get the odd effectively double cooked sprout soon knew…..excruciatingly bitter and metalic and unworthy of my delicious and creamy gratin.

So, this year I cooked them differently. Risky -my dad being a traditional man grew this years batch on his precious allotment and harvested within the day of eating. But safe to say I heard no objections as soon as the word bacon was batted around. As a member of the cabbage family I decided to cook them like cabbage or savoy cabbage to be precise. Shredded and sauteed lightly in garlic butter with some salty gems of bacon lardons. Chestnuts, had we had some, would have also been delicious here. By keeping them as raw and crunchy as possible to reduce the cooking time but enough to soften them, they were a welcome change to the Christmas lunch which will be continued from here on….plus, much less risk of choking for the health and safety conscious among us!

(I’ve left out quantities here depending on the number of guests you’re obligingly cooking for)

  • Sprouts, shredded
  • Smoked bacon/pancetta/bacon lardons
  • Butter
  • Garlic
  • Optional- cooked chestnuts
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Start with making your garlic butter. Crush 1-2 peeled garlic cloves into a chunky paste with some coarse salt and the back of a knife and mix with a generous knob of butte (about 25g for 1 large garlic clove if you need a rough measure)
  2. Heat a large frying pan and add the garlic butter and heat until it begins to foam. Cook slowly so the garlic doesn’t burn.
  3. Fry the bacon in a separate pan until crisp. (You can do all this in the same pan but the bacon will soften and you loose that crunchy texture. If you’re not fussed then add the bacon to the foaming butter and cook here)
  4. Add the shredded sprouts to the garlic butter and turn to coat. Add a splash of water to help steam things along a little and cook for a few minutes until as softened as you like them.
  5. Add the crispy bacon and its oil and chestnuts if using. Coat in the delicious juices and serve immediately!