I used to think Brussels Sprouts were a necessary evil on Christmas Day. Like having to wait for the last guest to arrive before we could attack the presents under the tree, or having to go for a walk after lunch. Frankly, as I wrote in my cookbook, Friends, Food, Family, from which this recipe is taken, I used to loathe and abhor them. To my mind they resemble nothing so much as boiled Budgerigar heads, and their sulphurous reek is a Proustian return to the school dining room.
Or I thought so until I ate a plate of Brussels, finely sliced and stir-fried in rapeseed oil. What a revelation! Gone was the pappy texture and bitter taste and, in their place, were fresh, al dente greens with just an elusive hint of that brassica bitterness.
This is the perfect way to cook them for Christmas Day. Delegate the slicing the night before to a kitchen elf (a grown up one, as it’s easy to remove finger parts with a mandolin), toast the almonds in advance, and then they take less than five minutes to flash fry on top of the stove. And there’ll be less washing up too, as they don’t need draining.
SERVES 6 AS A SIDE DISH
Equipment: You’ll need either a mandolin, or a very sharp knife and some patience.
400g Brussels sprouts
2tbsps rapeseed or olive oil
30g flaked/slivered almonds
Squeeze of lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
The secret is to slice the sprouts as finely as possible: I use a mandolin grater to get them almost paper thin.
Once the sprouts are sliced, put a dry drying pan on the heat and tip in the flaked almonds. Move them around the pan until they have changed colour ending up a nice pale brown. Do be careful as they catch easily. Remove from the pan, and set to one side.
Add the rapeseed or olive oil to a large frying pan or wok, heat it until it smokes and tumble in your sliced Brussels sprouts. Don’t push them around too much: you want some to catch, so you get a delicious frizzled, browned crispness to the edges. They take between 5-10 minutes.
Just before you think they are done, tip in the almonds. A squeeze of lemon juice, a little sea salt and black pepper and they are ready.
I wouldn’t cook these in advance for heating up, as they tend to go a bit soggy.