How I hated sprouts as a child and how I wish my Mum had known this brilliant and simple way of cooking them as it takes away all bitterness, replacing it with a sweet, nutty, moreish flavour. My friend Leni served sprouts this way when she gave me supper a few days ago and I have made this every day at home since, with the wonderful new season sprouts now in the shops. You can add garlic, bacon, chestnuts or finely chopped shallots, but honestly I think you can’t beat the simple and straightforward. It doesn’t need any other fancy flavours. Leni served them in little individual pots. I thought this was a good idea as it gave everyone equal shares and prevented any unseemly squabbling over second helpings.
Serves: as many as you like
Good quality oil
A knob of butter
Salt to taste
A little water
Trim the stalk away from the sprouts. Slice them in half vertically. Heat the oil under a moderate flame and add the butter, ideally in a non stick lidden wok. Wait for the butter to foam a little. Add the sprouts and salt, turning them occasionally and waiting for them to become just golden, about 4 minutes. Now add enough water to just cover the bottom of the pan and bring it to the boil. Put on the lid and turn the heat right down. In effect the sprouts will now steam until they are soft but not mushy and still bright green – about another 4 minutes. All the water should have evaporated but if it hasn’t drain the sprouts.
Serve immediately with a little extra butter.