The perfect side dish for your Christmas dinner
Sprout tops are increasing in their popularity and availability. This is a good thing; to my mind they’re as tasty as any green leaf, they’re easy to cook, and if you’re worried about buying sprouts and nobody eating them, they (should) be an option to appease all tastes.
It takes just a few moments to wilt sprout tops. Just a little oil or melted butter, then a few tbsp water to create steam. Stir for 3-4 mins and season generously with salt and black pepper.
But for an extra special seasoning, make this anchovy and clementine butter dressing and spike the greens at the end with chunks of fresh clementines (1-2 oranges instead of the clementines would work too).
300-400g sprout tops (3 heads)
50g tin of anchovies in oil
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 banana shallot, finely sliced
Cut the sprout top leaves from the stem, starting from the bottom. Work up until you reach the golf ball sized bud at the top. Remove this and cut in half. If any of the leaves are bigger than your palm, cut them in half. Otherwise leave as they are, wash and drain.
Roughly chop the anchovies and put them and the oil from their tin in a small saucepan. Add 20g of butter and the sliced garlic. Place over a very low heat and warm for 5-6 mins, allowing the anchovies to melt and garlic to soften—but neither of them to brown or burn. Remove from the heat and squeeze in the juice of one of the clementines. Peel the other 2clementines and chop the flesh into chunks.
Put a large frying pan, saucepan or wok over a medium-high heat. Put the remainder of the butter in the pan and allow to melt, before adding the shallot and a pinch of salt. Stir and soften for 1-2 mins, then add the still slightly damp sprout top leaves. Allow to wilt for 30 secs then drop in 3-4 tbsp water, which will steam and quicken the cooking process. Cook for 2-3 mins more, then remove from the heat.
Pour the anchovy butter over the sprout tops, add the clementines and a good deal of black pepper. Stir and serve, pouring any juices from the pan over the top.
Recipe and image: Ed Smith