Brussels Sprouts, love ’em or hate ’em it isn’t Christmas dinner without them on the table but this recipe has been winning over sprout sceptics this Christmas at demos up and down the country! The green gems are accompanied with the gorgeous savoury notes of pancetta and thyme and the sweetness of chestnuts, maple and orange. With all these flavours in the dish the sprouts aren’t as dominant as when they’re alone, but part of the trick to keep them tasting fresh is the first stage of cooking as I’ll explain below.
A wonderful dish and a pleasure to cook because you can get everything ready the day before and on the day itself they take literally minutes to cook in a screaming hot wok; also keeping the sprouts from overcooking and tasting slightly unpleasant.
- 1kg sprouts, trimmed
- 75g diced pancetta
- 1/2 pkt fresh thyme
- 1 tbsp cold-pressed rapeseed oil
- 100g cooked vacuum packed chestnuts, roughly chopped
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- zest and juice of an orange
- sea salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper
- Boil a large pan of water and salt well. Add the sprouts and boil for 1 minute before draining and returning to the pan. Fill with cold water and continue to run the cold tap to keep the water cold around the spouts. Leave in the water for 2-3 minutes or until they feel cold when held in your hand. Drain again well and depending on the size of the sprouts cut in half or quarters. Transfer to a container with 2-3 pieces of kitchen paper lining the bottom, to keep the sprouts from sitting in excess water, cover and place in the fridge.
*This parcooking and refreshing in cold water means their bright green colour is locked in compared to simply parboiling and leaving to cool naturally. They will also cook quicker in the wok and this rapid cooking process helps them from softening and creating the slightly unpleasant aroma often associated with sprouts.
- Preheat your BBQ for a 250-275c (475-525f) grilling / bulls eye heat with a cast iron wok over the heat, and the lid down, vents open as applicable.
- Add the oil to the wok with the pancetta and thyme. Stir loosely around the wok so the pancetta can render it’s fats and caramelise and the thyme can infuse the oils.
- Add the sprouts and stir to coat in the thyme infused oils. Close the lid for 30 seconds before going back in to stir again.
- Add the chestnuts, maple syrup and orange juice and zest and stir through. Close the lid for a further 30 seconds before checking the sprouts are hot, have good texture and the maple orange liquor has reduced to a velvety silky glaze that coats the bright green gems. Check the seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper but be careful not to over salt as the pancetta also adds natural salts.
- Remove from the BBQ and serve!