Inspired by Brussels sprouts

Some time ago I came across an unusual sounding, but in actual fact really delicious recipe for sprouts which had unexpected ingredients, including pancetta,  gorgonzola, crême fraiche,  chestnuts, Marsala wine and duck fat… I didn’t have many of the things on the list so I modified it using what I had. The original recipe also added more liquid and cooked for longer than I did, and there were a couple of other little differences too…

However, this is what I did (the second time I made it I had some black pudding in the fridge which I cubed and added to the bacon, and the next time I had some chorizo which I did the same):

Brussels sprouts with blue cheese

  • 16 Brussels sprouts, cut in half or quarters if they’re big
  • 2 or 3 rashers of crisp fried bacon cut into small bits
  • 1 oz creamy blue cheese
  • 1 oz cream/crême fraiche
  • small handful of nuts – cashews/pistachios/walnuts/pecans/cooked sweet chestnuts – lightly fried, the bigger nuts broken into small but not tiny bits
  • chopped herbs – parsley/coriander/basil
  • sweet white wine/sherry
  • stock
  1. fry the sprouts until they are bright green but don’t overcook
  2. add the alcohol and cook for a couple of minutes then add the stock, just a small amount you don’t want to drown or stew the sprouts
  3. in a separate pan heat the cheese and cream until ther is a sauce
  4. pile sprouts on a warm serving dish, pour over the sauce, and sprinkle with nuts and bacon

I was so taken with this recipe and my success, that I found myself writing about it in one of my Radwinter stories; inspiration really does come from anything that I might be doing! Here is the first draft of part of my story, Thomas is getting dinner ready  for his wife Kylie, and his young children Kenneil and Cassie. The children have been swimming with two friends who bring them home jsut as Thomas is cooking:

I’ve somehow ended up with a pile of sprouts; this does sometimes happens, what with the allotment and Val the veg shop lady who always seems to have something going cheap for me… I guess when the children are older and all eating proper food then we’ll be glad… maybe we should get another freezer…

So what can we do with sprouts, Kylie doesn’t really like them that much and Kenneil doesn’t like them at all, so it’s really only me… I wondered if there might be a recipe for sprout soup, so had a little investigate on the internet and come across a few interesting things, some of which have a list of very extravagant additional ingredients… pancetta,  gorgonzola, creme fraiche,  chestnuts, Marsala wine and duck fat… none of which I have. It would have to be an extraordinary basket of going cheap items in a supermarket which had all of them, and would I get them anyway? Pancetta…  that’s only bacon really, isn’t it? Posh Italian bacon? … so crème fraiche… we have some plain yoghurt, would that do?

I looked at the method and decided to see what I did have, and create something from that…

I took as many sprouts as I thought I might eat, they were only quite small ones, and I cut them in half, and I found the green end of a leek which I had kept… it had gone a bit soft but it was OK so I chopped it up and fried it gently in a mixture of butter (real butter) and olive oil, and then instead of making crispy pancetta I cut some slices of chorizo and put them in a different pan… it’s quite fatty so I always cook it first to get rid of some of the fat, and I used up the end of a black pudding… it is one of my little treats to myself…

I didn’t have any chestnuts so I found half a bag of cashews I’d brought back from the pub on our weekly quiz night treat and put them in with the chorizo and the black pudding which was smelling mighty good I can tell you. I threw the halves of sprouts in with the leak, and when they had gone lovely and bright green in the buttery oily leeky pan I found a glug of wine. While that was cooking I put some yoghurt into a pan with some rather elderly  crème fraiche which we actually did have right at the back of the fridge a rather large number of days after its best before date, and a bit of very old, leathery Stilton…

By this time Kylie had arrived and the two swimmers.

“That smells delish, dDaddy!” Kenneil announced and Cassie tried to say ‘delish’ too.

“What is that sweetheart, it smells great!” Kylie exclaimed, and before you could say Brussels sprouts, Kenneil and Cassie were wading into what was going to have been my dinner, and I was hastily chopping sprouts and leeks and chorizo to make some more for my wife and our friends! … and none of my family actually like sprouts!!

Her is a link to my Radwinter books, and my other novels; you won’t find this story in any of them… it’s in the next in the series:


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