I didn't have the greatest of starts in life with the sprout. Years of mushy overcooked brussels (thanks Dad) didn't give me a warm fuzzy glow when I saw them on a menu.
Admittedly these were the days when Al Dente was more likely to be the owner of the local ice cream parlour than a barely cooked sprout. But the experience did put me off the noble Brussels sprout for many years.
Thanks goodness it was only once a year. Incidentally, the sprout has no historical or religious connection to this time of year. Ever heard of Sprout, Frankincense and Myrrh?
It is quite simply that they are at their best around Christmas time. I rediscovered the Brussels Sprout again when I started cooking for pleasure and realised their were many things you could do with the diminutive brassica apart from boiling it to death.
But if you do end up with a surplus of boiled or steamed sprouts after your Christmas dinner, a sprout bubble and squeak topped with a poached egg is a fine Boxing Day lunch.
All you need is some leftover mashed potato, one onion, left over sprouts and possibly a handful of the Christmas ham. Vegetarians can leave this out.
500g cooked and roughly sliced sprouts
300g mashed potato
1 sliced fried onion
Handful of cooked ham, chopped
METHOD Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix together with plenty of seasoning. I find it better to use my hands for this, and it feels good too. But that might just be me.
If you are cooking a big sprout and squeak in a big frying pan, just heat up some butter and olive oil together in the pan and drop in the mixture. Using a spatula, flatten everything down and leave to cook for 10 minutes or so over a medium heat.
You need the bottom of the 'cake' to get lovely, crispy, golden and caramelised. Then flip it over onto a large plate in the same way you would with a fritatta and slide it back into the pan to crisp the other side.
Remove onto a serving dish and cut into wedges.
If you are cooking individual sprout & squeaks in little blini pans (see main photo), just divide the mixture into 4-5 portions about the size of a cricket ball. Place one ball in the blini pan, or pans if you're clever, then flatten down and cook as above.
Serve hot or warm with a poached egg on top. The sweet chilli jam (in recipe section) is excellent with this.