Growing up I only new Brussels sprouts one way- and that way was boiled. When there was company visiting there may have been a knob of butter thrown into the mix but at home with the family they remained unadorned boiled sprouts. Come to think of it, there were very few vegetables that I ate as a child that weren’t simply boiled, and inevitably unseasoned. This is not a criticism of my mothers cooking, at the end of the day we all ate our vegetables so she must have been doing something right. Of course she now knows how to steam, which gives her vegetables marginally more character than does boiling.
Despite being boiled out of their skins, sprouts were still perhaps my favourite side addition to a roast chicken and yet I vividly recall submerging them enthusiastically in gravy. I could never understand why they were poked and prodded at by my brother and sister, that is until recently, when I came about the roasted sprout. Post-mothers cooking, I’d tried them steamed, sautéed, braised even, but nothing has compared in taste and simplicity to the roasted sprout and it’s crispy charred edges. No flavour is lost to the cooking liquor- you get 100% sprout, a bit of texture and most likely the vitamins to match. There’s no looking back now.
It was the build up to Thanksgiving that led to my first introduction to the sprout a la roasting pan- something that I would never have guessed. Firstly-Americans eat Brussels Sprouts(?) and secondly- they make them better than us Brits? The answer of course was yes, and I hate to say it but on both counts. Being that this is America though, many recipes call for a drizzling of honey or maple syrup before serving, which has its place– just not on my plate.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Almonds
Gone are the days of overcooked plain boiled sprouts- roasted sprouts have way more flavour look far more appealing than their boiled counterparts. And the best part is, they take only fifteen minutes to cook- which is faster than my stove boils water. Try tossing them with crispy pancetta, sautéed mushrooms, roasted chestnuts or crispy garlic breadcrumbs.
3 punnets of Sprouts or 2 lbs/900g (unpeeled weight), trimmed and cut in half
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
¼ cup flaked almonds
1/ Heat the oven to 400F/200C/Gas 6. Toss the sprouts in the oil and season. Place in a roasting pan, so that they are on one level and not on top of one another. Put in the oven and roast for about 15 minutes or until cooked to taste- toss once during cooking. The idea is to nearly burn the sprouts- so if you know that your oven is slow, then turn up the heat a touch.