The humble sprout is loved and loathed in equal measure, but no Christmas meal would be complete without them.
Throughout The Merchant Hotel, from The Great Room Restaurant, to Berts Jazz Bar and The Cloth Ear, the use of fresh, local produce is top our priority. Our chefs have been working hard to source the finest ingredients for our Christmas Day dinner. If you a gearing up for a lovely family Christmas at home, here at some some seasonal tips, courtesy of the chefs at Berts Jazz Bar, to help you to spruce up your sprouts this Christmas.
Brussels sprouts are readily available almost year-round, but their peak season falls between September and mid-February.
The best tasting, most tender sprouts are only 1-1.5 inches in diameter, and should be compact, firm and green, with minimal torn or yellowing leaves. Choose sprouts of similar size so that they cook evenly.
After removing any damaged or loose outer leaves, store the sprouts in a bag in the coldest part of your refrigerator. They will last 1-2 weeks, but try to cook them as soon as possible, as their flavour will strengthen with time.
Some say it was created for Queen Victoria’s consort Prince Albert, who hailed from Saxe-Coburg and adored Brussels sprouts; whilst others maintain that it was named for the Queen’s oldest son who in 1901 became Edward VII of the House of Saxe-Coburg. However, most tend to agree that Saxe-Coburg is a tasty simply made soup.
To make, simply heat thinly sliced Brussels sprouts, onion, and chunks of smoky ham sweated slowly in butter, then simmered in a rich milk and ham stock (made up of 1 part milk to 2 parts ham stock). Served with a splash of sherry and with traditional “sippets” – tiny cubes of toast. Traditionally the soup is puréed, turning it a pale shade of green.
This is the perfect Christmas starter, or an ideal opportunity to use up any leftover sprouts and gammon.