The perfect Brussels sprouts!

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This is my ultimate Brussels sprouts dish: little goodies such as smoked bacon, slightly caramelised red onions and chestnuts adding exciting additional flavours and textures that complement the sprouts.

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Sprouts are always a source of division, with many people vocally expressing their loathing of them while those of us who love them often champion them more demurely from the side!

This is a dish I have cooked many times and even some confessed sprout haters have wolfed them down. And even if this dish does not convert everyone, if you do like sprouts I think you are in for a treat!

You can use raw bacon or, as I often do, pinch some of the bacon that was cooking over the turkey or chicken, crumble it up and stir it through the cooked sprouts.

Below the recipe is a list of some of my favourite accompaniments, with recipes, for any roast dinner.

Preparing and cooking sprouts

There is really no need to make a cut or even a cross in the bases of them: life it too short and sprouts don’t need it!  All you need to do is peel off any raggedy outer layers and cut off the base:

Over-cooking is the death of many a vegetatives, but particularly so with sprouts. Mushy sprouts are indeed the Devil’s food!

I usually steam sprouts for about 5 minutes until just starting to soften and then I put them into cold water to prevent further cooking – this can be done in advance and then finished off with the other ingredients.

Getting ahead

I often this dish fully made either earlier in the day or, when it comes to Christmas, I get it made on Christmas Eve.

The sprouts will still have a bit of bite to them once stir-fried, so simply pop into an oven-proof dish, cover them with foil and leave for when you are ready to warm them through.

To warm them through, pop then into the oven for about 20 minutes before I you want to serve. Temperature-wise, anything from 160C upwards or so.  Alternatively, you can simply pop them into the wok and stir-fry again for about 5 minutes until fully warmed through.

Recipe: my ultimate Brussels sprouts – serves 6

  • about 1kg Brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and sliced thinly (brown onions work well, too)
  • 3-4 rashers smoked bacon, chopped
  • handful cooked chestnuts (the vac-packed ones are ideal)
  • salt and freshly milled black pepper
  • a knob of butter
  • about a tablespoon of oil

(1) Pop the sprouts into a steamer and steam for 5 minutes until just starting to soften. If you don’t have a steamer, place into boiling water and let them simmer gently for 3-4 minutes. Plunge into cold water to cool down (which prevents them from continuing to cook).

(2) Heat the butter and oil in a pan or wok and add the onions and a little salt. Cook for about 5 minutes on medium-high until the onions start to soften take on colour and then add the bacon if it is uncooked. Cook for about 5 more minutes.
NB: feel free to add some chopped garlic once the bacon has cooked for about 5 minutes. If used cooked bacon, stir it in at the end.

(3) Drain the sprouts and add to the onions and bacon, stirring through on a high heat for about 1 minute or until some of the sprouts start to take on a tinge of colour.
NB: you can add a splash of water (or white wine) if the pan looks like it is getting too dark and dry

(4) Add a grinding of pepper, give it all a stir and empty into an oven-proof serving dish. Cover with foil and before you ready to serve, pop this into a warm oven for about 15 minutes until the sprouts are heated.

Other perfect accompaniments to a roast dinner

Yorkshire puddings: the secrets to perfect Yorkshire Puddings every time is here

For the best carrots (honeyed, with parsley and just a hint of truffle!): my ultimate carrots

For the very best roast potatoes every time: perfect roast potatoes

For the most delicous gravy to bring everything together: gravy

For the best pigs in blankets, glazed with honey and thyme and stuffed with apricots and cranberry sauce: pigs in blankets

For my favourite stuffing (inside the meat and/or cooked separately), which included herbs, apricots, nuts and sausagemeat: stuffing

Author: Philip

Finalist on Britain’s Best Home Cook (BBC Television 2018). Published recipe writer with a love of growing fruit & veg, cooking, teaching and eating good food.

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