Monday, 24 October 2011

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Original Recipe:
"Brussels Sprouts with Bacon" from Heston Blumenthal at Home.

Original Ingredients:
  • 5 smoked bacon rashers, cut into lardons
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 400g brussels sprouts

Original Method:
  1. Slice the bases from the brussels sprouts and carefully separate the leaves, pulling them off the sprouts.
  2. Fry the bacon in a frying pan over a medium heat until soft but not coloured. Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper. Set aside.
  3. Melt the butter with the bacon fat in the frying pan over a medium to low heat. When the butter is foaming, add the brussels leaves and stir to coat them. Add 2 tbsp water and cover the pan.
  4. Allow to cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stir in the bacon and season with salt and pepper.

My Ingredients:
  • 200g smoked bacon lardons (Waitrose Essential)
  • 25g unsalted butter (President)
  • 200g brussels sprouts (loose veg from Waitrose)

My Method: 
  • Basically followed the recipe except reducing the cooking time of brussels sprouts from 5 minutes to 3 minutes.

One-line Verdict:
This is an easy recipe which only takes about 30 minutes to yield a very satisfying result.

    • Sprouts are not really a very popular vegetable because of the unpleasant boiled-cabbage bitterness. However this is mainly due to overcooking, especially the exterior. The key to this recipe is to separate the leaves of the sprouts instead of to cook them whole. Ideally every leaf can be evenly cooked and sweet.
    • Separating the leaves was very laborious, it took me about 20 minutes to separate 10 sprouts. But it really worked and the resulting sprouts were sweet and delicious.
    • As what I bought was called lardons, I didn't do any further cutting or dicing -- okay, I simply forgot. However the photo on Heston Blumenthal's book showed neatly diced cubic lardons. If I do this dish again, I'll try to remember to dice the lardons into smaller cubes.
    • Approximate cost of the main ingredients: £2.4 (serves 2)

    (Additional information) How to choose brussels sprouts?
    • Choose firm, small, compact sprouts with a good green color and stem ends that are clean and white.
    • When possible, select sprouts of uniform size for uniform cooking. Avoid those with wilted or yellowed leaves or that feel spongy.
    • Sooty smudges or small holes in the leaves may be an indication of worms or plant lice.
    • Old Brussels sprouts acquire a strong cabbage odor.
    • Brussels sprouts are most abundant in autumn through early spring.

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