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The Currabinny cooks

- Pictures: Brid O’Donovan

The classic winter-time veg, utterly ubiquitous over Christmas, netted bags of sprouts fill the vegetable aisles of supermarke­ts and green grocers.

There is always so much chatter about how much derision they cause, so many people seemingly hating them more than any other vegetable.

They are the ultimate underdog, but then again, enough people must be eating them and not just for Christmas dinner to warrant such a bounty over the festive season. The economics of supply and demand surely suggest they aren’t quite as loathed as they are made out to be.

We are self-professed, proud sprout lovers. To us, they are probably the most used of the many seasonal products associated with Christmas. More than turkey, cranberrie­s, ham, chestnuts, parsnips, chocolate or gingerbrea­d, the humble Brussels sprout is our festive food hero.

It has to be said, however that the Brussels sprout is definitely a cold weather vegetable, being wholly comfortabl­e served alongside hearty roasts, gravies, potatoes, cheeses and sweet sauces. There is a time and a place for this tight little cabbage leaf in bud and that time is now when the ground is hard and frosts cover the grasses and leaves of vegetable patches. It also should never be cooked for too long, being horrid when boiled to flaccid mush, dulling its bright green flavour and taking on that old cabbage smell.

A sprout is not just for Christmas, so these recipes, although definitely season-appropriat­e are for everyday eating, lunchtime snacking and easy suppertime munching.

It is devastatin­g for sprout enthusiast­s to think about all those little netted bundles of sprouts being tossed away once Christmas dinner is over and people have turned their attention back to other less misunderst­ood vegetables.

Like with all our weekly vegetable profiles, the three recipes we have included hopefully show the versatilit­y of sprouts and how they can be used in different ways, for different kinds of eating.

We of course had to add our own spin on the classic sprout and lardon dish, sweetening and deepening the wonderful flavours with a little special ingredient­s. Two of the recipes include sprout in its raw form, which might sound absolutely ghastly to the uninitiate­d sprout eater but actually makes a lot of sense when you see and taste the finished product.

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