A couple of months ago, I read an interview with a chef, who confessed to having given up using his NutriBullet blender for its intended purpose of making worthy green smoothies, preferring instead to use it to whizz up super-smooth butter-logged chicken liver paté. Maybe this was his pass-agg way of giving the middle finger to the clean eating brigade, or maybe, like I suspect many of us who have dabbled with blitzing brassica into vile Kermit juice, he got tired of the flatulence and decided he actually, like, preferred chewing his veg with dinner as opposed to drinking it, nostrils pinched, first thing in the morning.
I also use my NutriBullet in ways that would be sternly frowned upon by the chia-munching, nut-milking, vagina-steaming Gwynnie-a-bes. I still use it for making smoothies, but nice frozen berry ones for the kids, as it’s a quick and easy way of getting fruit into them without a battle (and for using up those sorry looking bananas that would otherwise end up in a cake or in the bin, or, in my house, in a cake which no one eats except me which I then throw in the bin to avoid it ending up in my mouth). But more often, the blender (which is really all it is) is used to whizz up a marinade for distinctly (and literally) unclean ribs/chicken wings, to make milkshakes, or, my current obsession, to whip up goats cheese so it becomes like that lovely goats curd you get in restaurants but is impossible to buy anywhere (simply take a small pack of rindless soft-ish goats cheese – I use the Ocado mini goats cheese log – put it in the blender with a decent spoonful of yogurt, cream cheese or creme fraiche and pulse until its creamy and spreadable. Yum).
Whatever his reasoning, I quite like this chef’s subversive use of kitchen equipment. It’s got me thinking, are there any other renegade uses for culinary gadgetry? Has, for example, anyone ever tried to spiralize cheese?
With this in mind, today’s recipe introduces the season’s healthy but oft-loathed sprout to the deep fat fryer with surprisingly delicious – if not ‘clean’ – results. Serve them alongside your roast turkey this Friday and eyebrows (and later, inevitably, bed sheets) will be raised.
Deep fried brussel sprouts with hazelnut crumb
I had these last week as a starter at The Camberwell Arms (London, SE5, go there if you can, it’s fab) and they were so good that my husband and teen, both staunch sprout-haters, conceded that they were ‘quite palatable’ (needless to say, they didn’t go near the 9yo’s lips). There, they served them with a thyme crumb topped with pickled red onions. I have put some nuts in the crumb (hazelnut, but I reckon almonds or walnuts would work well too) because I had some in the cupboard. I’m planning on serving these as a side to the forerib of beef I’m cooking for 14 tomorrow night (yikes!).
Serves many (sorry, vague, but haven’t actually cooked it other than for myself yet)
- brussel sprouts – a handful per person
- 1 red onion or a couple of banana shallots, finely sliced
- sunflower or veg oil for deep frying
- sourdough or good white bread (preferably a bit stale) 3 thick slices, crusts removed
- blanched hazelnuts – a big handful chopped
- sage leaves – 6 finely chopped
- large knob of butter
- salt and pepper
- lemon zest (optional)
To fry the sprouts:
- Heat oil in a deep fat fryer to 180°C or half fill a large saucepan/wok with oil and heat – if you do not have a thermometer you can tell if it’s hot enough if, when you place the handle of a wooden spoon in it, bubbles appear around the handle. If it starts smoking, it’s too hot, so turn down the flame.
- Remove outer leaves of sprouts and cut big ones in half. Make sure they are completely dry, otherwise the oil will spit.
- Fry sprouts in batches, for 3-4 minutes until deep golden.
- Remove with a slotted spoon, onto kitchen towel and sprinkle with salt.
- Fry the onion/shallots until golden and crispy, remove and drain on kitchen paper.
For the crumb:
- Tear up the bread into small pieces, place on a baking tray and bake in a preheated oven (170°C fan) for about 10 minutes, until golden and crispy. Remove from oven and leave to cool.
- When cool, place toasted bread in a freezer bag and bash with a rolling pin until you have a coarse crumb.
- Heat butter in a frying pan, add breadcrumbs, sage and chopped hazelnuts and fry for about 3 minutes until everything looks golden and toasty. Season.
- Drain crumb mixture on kitchen paper, then serve on top of sprouts with the fried onions scattered over. Grate over a bit of lemon zest if you like.
Merry Christmas! (I was going to write Happy Christmas but my children tell me that is SO wrong, a bit like saying Merry Birthday (how so?), so I’ve been well and truly told. We live and learn.)