The poor old Brussels sprout, caught between hopelessly trendy and hopelessly overcooked. Has anything so small and so good for you (if not quite as good for those in your close vicinity after eating), ever been so maligned.
Like most unloved ingredients there have been recent attempts at salvaging its reputation, notably being paired with Pancetta Breadcrumbs, shaved in salads and slaws, and even as topping on pizzas, notably at Motorino in New York. But perhaps the most biggest reinvention has been seen by David Chang, of Momofuku fame, who pairs the sprout with strong, salty flavours such as kimchi; fish sauce vinaigrette; or bacon, lime and sriracha chilli.
While I must confess a deep love for the mini brassica, it’s sadly something that isn’t shared with my better half. In fact, of all the known food groups, the sprout is the one thing the Ewing avoids – strange as kale, cabbage and broccoli remain some of her favourite veg.
But, of course, everyone loves bacon, and cured meat happens to be one of the cabbage family’s favourite bed fellows, so here is my twist on the classic sweet/hot/salty/sour/plus sprout combination, made using some leftover smoked bacon fat from Christmas and a healthy lick of the Rib Man’s FuckYuzu chilli sauce.
This condiment, based on his iconic Holy Fuck chilli sauce that is slathered on his famous rib rolls in Brick Lane each Sunday, is a collaboration with the 2011 Masterchef winner Tim Anderson. The sauce uses the secret Holy Fuck Base – complete with a dose of the famed Dorset naga chilli – and is given an Asian twist with yuzu juice, a citrus fruit hybrid that combines the fragrant flavours of mandarin, grapefruit and lemon with a sour kick.
If you want to push the boast out then a few chunks of crisp bacon or a handful of nuts make great additions - we converted a Spanish friend to the delights of the Brussels at Christmas by cooking them with a few slices of smoked streaky and some chestnuts - but I'm actually not sure these need anything extra. Judging by the fact I caught her eating leftovers straight from the fridge, the Ewing didn't think so either.
A good handful of sprouts per person (100g-150g)
A good knob of of goose/bacon fat or butter per person
FuckYuzu sauce (or Sriatcha/other chilli sauce and a squeeze of lime) to taste
Optional extras -
Smoked streaky bacon/pancetta
Heat fat in a large, heavy frying pan.
If using nuts/bacon add to pan now and gently fry until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.
Add sprouts, cut side down, and cook for about 4-5 minutes, or until cut side is golden brown.
Toss sprouts, reduce heat and continue cooking until just soft. Add a drop of water to the pan if sprouts are starting to colour too much.
Add the reserved nuts/bacon, if using, then stir through FuckYuzu or chilli sauce to taste.
Serve with plenty of beer and some (Christmas) cheer.
Get your Rib Man sauces online here