Brussel sprouts have a reputation for being hated, and I think the reason for this is that many people simply have not had them prepared properly, or with enough love and finesse, to fully realise their potential. When simply boiled, they're not great. Because they're so dense, by the time the heart is cooked the vibrant green outer leaves have turned brown and unappetising. If you remove the outer leaves and cook them separately, the hearts can be slowly braised, creating a rich sauce that will infuse flavour into the hard centres.
- 250 g brussel sprouts
- 50 g unsalted butter
- 8 chestnuts, cooked and peeled
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- vegetable oil, for cooking
- ½ tsp Marmite
Using a small knife, cut about 5 mm off the bottom of each brussel sprout and discard. Remove the dark green outer leaves and set aside. Place a large, heavy-based frying pan or skillet over a medium-high heat and add about 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, in about 30 seconds, add the brussel sprouts along with a pinch of salt and black pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for 2 - 3 minutes, or until the sprouts are lightly caramelised. Add half of the butter, and stir until the sprouts are nicely coated. Cook until the butter is starting to turn nutty and brown, then add about 200 ml of water and the Marmite and cover the pan with a lid (use aluminium foil if you don't have a lid). Turn the heat down to medium and simmer until the sprouts are tender. This should take about 5 minutes or so.
While the sprouts are cooking, bring a pan of water to the boil for cooking the sprout leaves. Season it with salt. Once the sprout hearts are cooked, remove from the pan and set aside. Reduce the cooking liquid down until you have a light sauce consistency, then beat or whisk the remaining butter in piece by piece to thicken it.
Finally, cook the sprout leaves in the boiling water for 30 seconds or so, until tender. Roughly chop or slice the chestnuts. To serve, place the braised sprouts in a serving dish and spoon the sauce over. Garnish with the chestnuts and sprout leaves.