‘I like to use ingredients that people don’t use very often, or tend to make a mess of,’ says chef James Lowe, whose restaurants Lyle’s and Flor are known for their use of fresh, local produce.
‘And I love Brussels sprouts.’
You might think they’re best avoided until Christmas, but Lowe is adamant that sprouts can be delicious in the new year, too.
‘They get treated so badly and they really are rubbish when they’re overcooked. But they can be so green, crunchy and bright instead.’
Using fresh as well as cooked sprouts is the key to this recipe, as is peeling off the leaves, which is ‘time consuming, but important — it makes it taste more like a salad. Roasting some of the sprouts quickly means they still have bite, and won’t be soggy.’
Parmesan and pecans add richness and a textural contrast. It’s a dish that’s perfect on its own, or teamed with a cosy winter roast. ‘At Lyle’s we’ve done it with mallard, but it goes well with pheasant or any red or white meat,’ says Lowe.
The verdict’s in: before sprouts go out of season in a few weeks, it’s time to upgrade from a once-a-year endurance test to a winter vegetable with real flavour.
Brussels sprouts, pecan, maple and Parmesan salad
1kg Brussels sprouts
1 banana shallot
130ml red wine vinegar
100ml maple syrup
100ml olive oil
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 160C. Cut the bottoms off 300g of the Brussels sprouts and peel into individual leaves. Cut the remaining sprouts in half, season with salt and set aside for 20 minutes. Dice the shallot finely and mix with 30ml of red wine vinegar.
Place the pecans and honey in a non-stick tray and cook for around 15 minutes, giving a good shake regularly, then remove and sprinkle with fine salt.
For the dressing, bring the maple syrup up to about 40C in a pan on a low heat, add the remaining vinegar and then the oil. Mix well and leave to cool at room temperature.
To cook the sprouts, take a large frying pan and arrange all the halved sprouts cut-side down in one layer.
Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil and fry until dark brown and crispy. Add 50ml of the maple dressing, shake the pan to toss and then tip into a bowl.
Allow to cool for a minute before mixing in the picked leaves, black pepper, the shallots and the pecans. Top with Parmesan.