Saturday, 27 December 2014


So it's Boxing day and your rolling around your house full to the brim with turkey, potatoes and miscellaneous cake and chocolate based treats. Not only that but your fridge and cupboards are also probably still bursting with the copious amounts of food that you bought. That's right folks! Its time to start getting rid of the leftovers and this cheesy vegetable bake is a scrumptious way to get rid of the most divisive Christmas veg of them all; the Brussels sprout.

In my opinion, sprouts get such a bad rep. I absolutely love them. I think with the hectic cooking schedule of the Christmas dinner they can be left to become overcooked and then yes of course they are not going to be delightful. However when you give them a little love and attention they can be incredible, especially when they are roasted (rather than boiled to death) into little balls of caramelized heaven.

Preparation of ones sprouts is important. Make sure they are wash thoroughly to get rid of any dirt and any manky looking leaves are removed. You can roast most whole however use the picture to the left as a guide. If you make an ok sign and you can push the sprout easily through the hole then leave them be. If not then cut them in half so they all roast through the same. I've roasted my sprouts in my old friend liquid smoke. That lully BBQ flavour works so well with the caramelization of the sprouts. If you don't have any then see what you have knocking around. Roasting in chili oil or slipping in a bit of smoked paprika will give you a tasty flavour kick too. 
I like to use Cheddar cheese as the sauce to the bake but whilst we are using up Christmas leftovers this is a great time to use those cheese board cheeses you might still have. Add in cheeses that melt well or if your have any that are flavoured with chili or other spices they will add further flavours into your bake. Use cheeses you think will complement the flavours you roasted your sprouts in.
For added crunch and meatiness for those carnivores, a sprinkling of bacon bits really work a treat mixed in with the bread crumb topping. There are soy versions of these which I buy for the veggie in the house but if this is not an issue for you then chop up and fry little bits of smoked bacon or pancetta for a bit of meaty goodness.
Let's get baking. Even if your not a fan of sprouts give this a go. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Cheesy Sprout Bake

500g Sprouts
A Good Glug Of Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Liquid Smoke (Optional)
1 Large Chopped Onion
Handfull Chopped Mushrooms
25g Butter
1 Tbsp English Mustard Powder
50g Plain Flour
400ml Milk
150g Grated Cheddar Cheese
Handfull Breadcrumbs
Handfull Bacon Bits
  1. Turn your oven on to 200 degrees (180 fan) and line a large roasting tray with foil. Throw in your sprouts and pour in the oil and liquid smoke. Mix everything together with your hands so all the sprouts are coated in the smoky oil. Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Once golden remove from the oven and leave to one side to cool. 
  2. In a large deep sided pan, fry up the onions and mushrooms with the butter on a medium heat until the onions begin to soften. Add in the mustard powder and flour and keep frying for a further minute, stirring as you go so the flour doesn't stick to the pan.
  3. Pour in the milk and keep on the heat whilst you stir constantly to remove and lumps of flour from the mix. Keep stirring until the now saucy mix has thickened slightly and is about to come to the boil (but do not let it boil!).
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and instantly add in the grated cheese and keep stirring until all the cheese has melted and the sauce has thickened up even further.
  5. Take a oven proof dish and plop in the sprouts before pouring over the cheesy onion and mushroom sauce. Sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and bacon bits and then place the whole bake back into the oven for around 10 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly so that the sauce will thicken. Serve your bake either on its own or as a side to your left over turkey and ham. Its a delicious accompaniment that I hope will get people falling in love with the humble sprout. They will be all tender and delicious and covered in a beautifully oozy cheesy sauce. If this doesn't have the haters changing there mind on sprouts then I'll hold my hands up in defeat. Anyway - that's means more for me!

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