Sprouts. Easily the most vilified element of the Christmas dinner, they are very much the Marmite of the sides. Love them, or hate them, they will have a presence on almost every table this December 25th.
But these beautiful brassicas can be delicious, even if they need few extra elements added to them to. Like smothering your carrots in butter and honey, adding duck fat to your roasties, or glazing the ham, there is no shame in elevating them to the next level. Especially when the chef normally boils them to an inch of their life!
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Food influencer Ciaran Dunne is known for his super simple and straightforward videos on Instagram and Tiktok - @fooddunneright. He joined Ray Foley on Today FM to run through some tips to make Christmas Day dinner a stress free and ultimately delicious experience. A big fan of a simple steamed sprout, Ciaran said "me and my dad have them straight out of the pot". But he also suggested roasting them to get them crisp and serve with pancetta and balsamic vinegar.
But what are the best practices to ensure you don't end up with a mushy, nasty, overcooked sprout?
Trim & Blanch
Blanching is something you can do very easily with green vegetables to ensure they keep their colour and vibrancy. To do this, trim the outer leaves off all the sprouts, removing any yellow or damaged ones. Then bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the sprouts. Pop the sprouts in for about two to three minutes, then afterwards, plunge them into a bowl of iced water. This stops them cooking, and keeps the vibrant colour and avoids them tasting too bitter.
'Tis The Season For Seasoning!
Blanching your sprouts means you can roast or pan fry them with a significantly shorter cooking time in the pan or a quick blast in oven. For example you can toss them into a hot frying pan with a bit of olive oil, some salt and some spices. Festive flavours like nutmeg, cloves, and even cinnamon go very well with sprouts. Crushed cumin or coriander seeds and paprika all go nicely with them. Salted butter melted on top of them is always a dream. Adding some pre-cooked chestnuts, lumps of flavored sausage-meat, or even, as Ciaran suggests, some pancetta are all equally sensational additions. Even grating over some Parmesan or Grana Padano can elevate them.
Roast For Crispness
One of the best ways to get a delicious sprouts with a bit of crunch while still holding their structure is by roasting them. Preheat the oven to 200°C, spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and the spices of your choosing. Roast for 15-20 minutes until they are nice and tender, and slightly charred on the edges.
Press play below to hear @fooddunneright's chat with Ray.
Food with Ray Foley, thanks to Cully & Sully, Great Food & Soup-er conversation.