Charismatic Christmas Brussels sprouts

“We kids feared many things in those days – werewolves, dentists, North Koreans, Sunday School – but they all paled in comparison with Brussels sprouts.”

Dave Barry, Miami Herald columnist

Brussels sprouts are notorious for being deeply unpopular. That is because, in their basic state, they are bitter and they are solid.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. There are three important things to do:

  • shred them – a rather tedious task, pour drinks and enlist helpers.


  • add salt: this can be in the shape of …. just salt. Or it can be Marmite breadcrumbs (see below), or lardons, bacon, chorizo, or pancetta, or miso. Or, for an Italian twist, instead of the Marmite breadcrumbs, try a hazelnut pangrattato made by frying up some panko breadcrumbs with chopped hazelnuts and thyme. Or a mix of all these.


  • add sweetness: this can be done by any number of things… just sugar for starters. Or jam, cranberry sauce, maple syrup, honey, quince, pomegranate or redcurrant jelly, thick balsamic vinegar or pomegranate molasses, or chestnuts… you get the picture.

Don’t boil

  • A real key to this technique is to eschew any idea of boiling the sprouts… they will become soggy. Stir-frying them (even to the effect that some are slightly charred) achieves a much better result.
  • A bit of lemon juice, and some herbs will add flavour.

For another Brussels sprouts and maple syrup recipe follow this link.

How to make Marmite breadcrumbs

In a frying pan, melt 50g of butter with two teaspoons of Marmite. Stir in about a cup/120g of fresh breadcrumbs, and fry until dry and crisps. Add some dried Herbes de Provence, or some thyme leaves, or some finely chopped rosemary, and some lemon zest, if you have a lemon to hand.

These will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for about a week, but crisp them up in a frying pan just before using them.

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