How to cook Brussels sprouts so you actually eat them

Brussels sprouts are a traditional - but often disliked - feature of Christmas dinner [Image: Getty]
Brussels sprouts are a traditional - but often disliked - feature of Christmas dinner [Image: Getty]

They may be the most festive veg of all, rolled out exclusively on 25 December.

And - unlike much Christmas grub - they’re seriously nutritious, coming packed with vitamins C and K as well as fibre.

But, for many people, the humble Brussels sprout is seriously divisive.

There are those who love them, and pile their plate high with the beloved ‘mini cabbages’ every year with glee.

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However, for others, sprouts conjure up a bitter taste of Christmases past.

Science has shown that the latter camp may be particularly sensitive to chemical compounds called glucosinolates, which when cooked turn into isothiocyanates - leaving an unpleasant flavour for three quarters of the population.

Over the last couple of decades, farmers have worked hard to breed the green veggie so it contains fewer glucosinolates.

But if you still need convincing how to cook them so they taste delicious, we’ve got the expert opinion.

Read on to find out about cooking time, the best way to season them, and much more...

Don’t overcook them

“As a sprouts fan, I believe they are most delicious without too much interference - especially since they are perfectly in season right now,” says Alistair Craig, head chef at Cambium restaurant at Careys Manor & SenSpa in the New Forest.

“The key is not to overcook them. Cut them into halves and steam them for a couple of minutes until they are al dente.

“Season with salt, pepper and butter, and serve hot straight from the pan.”

Introduce other ingredients

“One of our favourite ways to cook sprouts is to finely shred them and then sauté them in a pan with smoked bacon lardons, butter, lots of black pepper, chopped chestnuts and toasted hazelnuts,” recommend Annabel Wray and Victoria Knight, chefs and co-founders of Hakuna Foods.

“The balance of flavours and textures here is what makes it a really delicious dish for Christmas.”

For an unexpected cheesy twist, they suggest serving them up as a gratin in a dish inspired by cauliflower cheese.

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“This is a great one to prep in advance and then you can simply put it in the oven to heat up on the day,” they explain.

“We par boil the sprouts in some salted water, and then we cool them down in cold water before adding a ton of cheesy sauce and topping with breadcrumbs and grated cheese.”

Don’t forget seasoning

If you want to go down the traditional route and cook them as a simple - but delicious - side to the turkey and other trimming, it’s wise to get the basics right.

Frying, rather than steaming, can avoid a soggy result.

“Try frying the sprouts whole with butter and garlic for two or three minutes - not forgetting to season adequately with salt and pepper,” says Ricardo Simoes, head chef at Atalho de Alvalade.

“That will ensure they’re packed with flavour.”

Add them to the roast

A cooking hack that may save you some hassle on the big day.

“Roast them at a low temperature in brown butter with a handful of sage for 45 to 60 minutes,” advises Richard Bainbridge, chef owner of Benedicts in Norwich.