Brussels sprouts. They’re a non-negotiable when it comes to Crimbo dinner, but how many of us actually enjoy them? According to a recent survey, they’re the third most hated food in Britain and just under half of us actively abhor them.
But are they getting a raw deal? We honey-roast our parsnips, glaze our carrots, braise our cabbage and… boil our sprouts. Side-serving of mush, anyone?
Last year, my family quite literally got a raw deal, when we decided to microwave the little blighters in an attempt to circumvent the ‘mush’ situation. The first indication that we had not only succeeded, but surpassed ourselves in our efforts to maintain that ‘al dente’ texture. Eight sprouts bouncing across the Christmas dinner table in a chaotic approximation of multi-player pinball, as eight people tried – and failed – to stick their forks in. Turns out the microwave had quietly given up the ghost halfway through the cooking process, unbeknownst to the oblivious chefs or their unfortunate guests.
I stoically crunched my way through my own plateful (they were still stuffed to the gunnels with bone-boosting, cancer-fighting, anti-ageing nutrients, after all) but was unable to induce anyone else to join me. There had to be a better way.
So Mission: Sprout Spice-Up began. The weirder and wackier the recipe, the quicker mum and I raided the shelves. Lemon roasted? Obviously. Stir fried? Sure. Honey sriricha glazed? Hell to the yes. But there could only be one winner and it was curried sprouts.
Curry + mango chutney + crème fraîche = the perfect blend of sweet, savoury, spicy deliciousness, all rolled up in one indulgent little creamy package. Accompanied by gravy, roast tatties and a bit of braised red cabbage, though? Even better. Not that you’ll be saving them for Christmas – the ultimate addition to a plate of pie and mash, you’ll be whipping them up all year round. Seriously.
Allow me to present the ultimate sprout hack. Make it our way, or make it your own. Bit more of a traditionalist? Why not switch the chutney for cranberry sauce? Not a curry fan? Feel free to leave it out – scrumptiously sweet mango glazed sprouts are the bomb, plain and (just a little more) simple. Feeling indulgent? Swap the crème fraîche for double cream.
Our secret weapon, though? Curry pickle. Yes, in my naivety, I slathered it on cheese and oatcakes. Yes, it very nearly blew my head off. But as a curry paste/powder sub, it’s unbeatable.
Curried sprouts with mango chutney
*Adapted from Phil Vickery’s Brussel Sprouts with Spices and Crème Fraîche.
Ingredients (serves 4-6)
350g brussel sprouts, trimmed
100ml crème fraîche or double cream
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp mango chutney
1 tsp Patak’s Mixed Pickle (or your favourite curry paste or powder)
Boil the sprouts for 10 minutes, until they begin to soften.
When time’s nearly up, heat the oil in a large pan or wok. Drain the sprouts and tip them in.
Stir fry them for a minute or two, then add the crème fraîche, chutney and curry pickle.
Continue to stir fry until all the ingredients are well mixed and warmed through, and the sprouts are well coated.