Poached Brussels Sprouts on a Spiced Parsnip Bed

Here’s a much more interesting way of serving your sprouts for the Christmas meal. Any vegetarian guests will also be pleased as it makes a proper main-course dish for them. The parsnip purée can be prepared in advance and reheated but the sprouts must be cooked at the last minute.

Ingredients

  • 1.75 kg/4 lb parsnips
  • 6-8 cardamom pods
  • 2 rounded teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 200 g/7 oz butter
  • 1.35 kg/3 lb Brussels sprouts
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 300 ml/½ pint vegetable or chicken stock
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • sea salt
  • black pepper

Method

Peel the parsnips, cut them up roughly and steam or boil until soft. Extract the seeds from the cardamom pods, then grind finely in a coffee grinder with the coriander seeds. Put a dry frying pan over a fairly low heat, add the ground spices and stir for a minute, then add half the butter. Stir until melted and then remove from the heat. Purée the parsnips in a food processor with the spiced melted butter and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper. Spread the parsnip purée in a large, round shallow serving dish, bringing it up slightly round the sides. Loosely cover with foil and keep warm in a low oven.

Trim the sprouts, then slice across thinly lengthways. Peel the garlic and slice finely across. Heat the remaining butter and the stock in a pan over a medium heat. When the mixture is bubbling, add the sprouts and garlic. Cover and simmer for 3-4 minutes, until the sprouts are bright green and just soft. Remove the lid and stir the sprouts around over a higher heat until all the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat, taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Spoon the sprouts on to the parsnip purée, leaving the purée showing round the sides. Grate a little nutmeg on to the sprouts and serve at once.

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