First off – and we want to make this very clear from the outset – there’s absolutely nothing wrong with brussel sprouts. We know, we know, but the only reason you don’t like them is because at some point someone overcooked them and then you all ended up sitting around the Christmas table, looking shiftily at each other and quietly blaming the dog. The sprouts themselves were great, it’s just somebody overcooked them once and they’ve had an undeserved bad reputation since. So, without further ado, here’s our guide to cooking brussel sprouts properly!

Freshness, as with more-or-less anything you’re cooking, is something that you need to always consider. Make sure to buy your sprouts from a trustworthy greengrocers when they’re still on their stalks, and when you take them home treat them like flowers and keep the stalks in water until it’s cooking time! Peel them off their stalks carefully, trim a few of the outermost leaves and don’t you dare draw that cross on the bottom – it does nothing except make them waterlogged and nobody who knows what they’re talking about bothers. Weird, but true – the cross is pointless and you’ve been wasting your time all these years. Sorry.

Now you’ve prepared this mighty vegetable, pop them in a large pan of well-salted, boiling water for around three to four minutes until they’re just soft all of the way through – this is the important bit, as we’ve already mentioned over cooking the sprouts is criminal, and they need a lot less time than you think. They’re done as soon as you can easily push a knife all the way through. Serve with a knob of butter on top, lots of cracked black pepper and maybe an extra pinch of salt, to taste.

Now we’ve got the basics down, there’s a lot more fun that can be had with this humble vegetable. One of our favourites is the brussels ‘slaw – grate raw sprouts, a carrot or two, a fresh apple and some celery into a bowl, add a scoop of mayonnaise and a small hit of mustard, lots of cracked black pepper and just a small handful of crushed pecan nuts for an exciting take on an old favourite that goes wonderfully with meats like sausages, ribs or burgers.

Another old favourite for jazzing up your sprouts is adding some Christmas-y bacon and chestnuts. Whilst you’re cooking your sprouts in water (as above), fry some chopped lardons in a pan with a good knob of butter until crisp under a high heat and then chuck your drained sprouts in with some crushed chestnuts. Keep the mixture moving until the sprouts are shiny and the chestnuts are soft, and then serve with cracked black pepper. Delicious.

Got any of your own recipes for sprouts? Want to let us know what you think of our recipes? Want to argue over putting a little cross on them? Please feel free to get in contact – we love hearing from you!

Beautiful photograph of beautiful brussel sprouts by Niall Kennedy