Brussels sprouts are invariably associated with Christmas dinners and a pervasive sulphurous odour that lingers around the house – initially from the traditional brutal boiling that renders them soft enough to eat without chewing; hours later, from the pumptastic effect they have on the digestive system. Few vegetables can be as noxious as an overcooked sprout.
They don’t have to be that way. Cooking sprouts more considerately makes them a more pleasant proposition all round, and mixing them with chestnuts makes them taste superb. So if you’re not looking forward to slurping your way through a mound of pale, soggy sprouts this year – and then, for the rest of the day, having to inhale the ‘aftersprout’ as it percolates through the bowels of your nearest and dearest – perhaps you should supply this recipe to your tribe’s chief sprout-boiler.
Ingredients (scale up or down according to clan size)
1kg Brussels sprouts
400g chestnuts, peeled and cooked (i.e. canned or vacuum-packed ones)
salt and black pepper
Prepare the sprouts by trimming off the ends and removing the outer layer of leaves, revealing the pale green pristine sprouts within.
Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Drop in the sprouts and chestnuts, bring it back to simmering point and leave for 6-10 minutes, depending on the size and tenderness of the sprouts. When you can easily cut a sprout in half with a sharp knife but – crucially – still feel a little resistance, they’re done.
Drain the pan (the water is good for making gravy) and add the butter. Crush it all up, quite thoroughly, with a potato masher. Season with lots of salt and pepper.