We used to hate eating sprouts at Christmas, until we tried this simple Heston Blumenthal Christmas Brussels Sprouts recipe. Very easy to make and utterly delicious, you will want to eat sprouts all year if you try it.
A few years ago we were greedy enough to make TWO extra Christmas dinners, as part of a Heston Blumenthal v Gordon Ramsay challenge. The best thing to come out of that was finding out just how delicious Fat Duck chef Heston Blumenthal’s Brussels sprouts recipe was. It really is the perfect Brussels Sprouts recipe.
Eating sprouts always seems like a chore: nobody enjoys them, you just serve them because it’s a Christmas tradition. We’ve tried Christmas Brussels sprout recipes that add ingredients like lemon or nuts to mask the flavour, but they always seem like attempts to make the best of an already bad dish.
This Heston Blumenthal Perfect Brussels Sprout recipe is the opposite of that. Just 3 ingredients, super simple and quick to make. The ideal way to serve Brussels sprouts at Christmas It’s so delicious you might just end up eating sprouts all year round! (And it’s easily better than Gordon Ramsay’s Brussels Sprout recipe).
Recipes: Heston’s Brussels Sprouts recipe
Special Equipment: None
Special Ingredients: None
Time: 25 min – 1 hour, depending on how you separate the leaves
Cost: £2 – £3
Serves: 4 – 6
Difficulty: Very Easy
- 400g Brussels Sprouts
- Pack of smoked bacon lardons, or 4 thick streaky rashers
- 30 – 50g unsalted butter
- Separate the sprout leaves individually, or shred each sprout very finely
- If using bacon rashers, dice very finely
- Fry bacon over medium heat until lightly cooked, then remove to a side plate
- Add butter and 2 tbsp water to pan and heat until foaming
- Add sprouts to pan
- Reduce heat to low
- Stir pan to evenly coat contents, then cover with lid
- Cook for approx. 5 minutes, shaking pan (or stirring) every minute to prevent contents sticking
- Stir in the cooked bacon, season with salt & pepper then serve
Step 1: Preparing Heston’s Brussels Sprouts recipe
You can make this recipe faster and easier depending on how you choose to separate the leaves.
Heston’s Brussels Sprouts recipe on the Waitrose website and the Sprout recipe in Heston at Home both tell you to separate the leaves individually, so you end up with what looks like a tiny pile of miniature cabbage leaves.
This looks fancy, and it means you won’t end up eating the bitter cores of each sprout (they get thrown away). But it’s a very fiddly and time-consuming job. Also, as the leaves at the centre of each sprout are too small and tough to peel you do end up throwing away a lot of the veg you’ve bought. We estimated we threw away half the weight in sprouts with this method.
If you’re stood in front of a big pile of sprouts we recommend you test this method out with your first sprout. Cut the bottom off and start pulling the leaves away until you’ve separated as many as you can. You should be left with a tough sprout core of tight, knotty leaves.
Now look at your pile of sprouts and decide if you’d be happy doing that with all of them.
Faster and cheaper is a second technique that is also suggested in the Heston Sprout recipe from Heston at Home shred the sprouts very finely.
You do need a very sharp knife and a bit of care to make sure your sprouts are matchstick thin, but this is the quickest and easiest way to prepare Heston’s Brussels sprouts recipe. It also means less wasted food.
Note: for both versions of Heston’s Brussels sprout recipes make sure you discard the dirty outer leaves, unless you bought sprouts already washed and prepared.
Step 2: Cooking the Bacon
If you did decide to shred the sprouts finely we recommend dicing our bacon into pieces as tiny as you can, so they match up better. If you just separated the leaves then standard lardons will be fine.
Streaky bacon works best in Heston’s Brussels Sprouts recipe, as it has more fat – which means more flavour. You may find it best to slightly oil your pan to prevent the bacon from sticking. If so try to use butter or neutral flavour oil like groundnut.
Once the bacon is cooked it’s easiest just to tip it onto a small side plate so its handy for later.
Step 3: Cooking Heston’s Brussels Sprouts recipe
Now it’s time to add the sprouts themselves for the final stage of Heston’s Brussels Sprouts recipe. Add the butter to the pan and once it’s foaming tip in all your sprouts along with 2 tablespoons of water (about 30ml).
This water is essential, as it’ll turn into a steam inside the pan, which will help cook your sprouts to tender perfection. Be sure to keep the lid on to prevent the heat and steam from escaping!
Jostle the pan a few times during cooking to stop the leaves from sticking and ensure Heston’s Brussels Sprouts recipe cooks evenly and to perfection. (You can lift the lid and give them a quick stir if you like, but they might take a minute or two longer to cook).
Stir the bacon into the sprouts once they are cooked to your liking.
Congratulations. You’ve just made Heston Blumenthal’s Perfect Christmas Brussels Sprouts recipe.
When we first made Heston’s Brussels sprouts recipe none of the people sat at the table would claim to enjoy any of the Christmas sprouts recipes they’d tried. After trying Heston’s Brussels sprouts recipe every single diner was converted.
This might be down to the Epic Meal Time-like notion that everything tastes better with bacon. Or it might be because both ways of chopping the leaves mean these don’t look like your normal Brussels sprouts, and so there’s none of the negative associations.
Whatever it is Heston’s Perfect Brussels Sprouts recipe is one that we’ll be making every Christmas from now on. It’s so good that we simply wouldn’t prepare Brussels Sprouts any other way than the Heston Blumenthal way.
There’s nothing about this recipe that we’d change. Heston’s Brussels Sprouts recipe is absolute perfection.
How do you make your sprouts, and what tricks would you suggest to make Christmas dinner sprouts recipes more enjoyable. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.