Monday, January 15, 2007

Brussel tops

Brussel tops appear sporadically at my greengrocer in the winter, and as a result have the allure of a special treat. A special treat, moreover, that costs just a few pence.

True, they are not refined fare. Jane Grigson -- unenthusiastic about greens in general -- concedes only that she has "a slight affection" for them. You have to accept that they will be course, because if you try to cook them until they soften, you lose their bright colour and leafy, pleasantly astringent flavour.

You strip the leaves from the stalks, and wash them. I put them into the steamer for five minutes, drain them, and toss them in butter, with some salt and plenty of pepper.

As do other greens, brussel tops go well with garlic, chilli and anchovy. One might soften the garlic and a whizzed dry chilli in butter or olive oil, stirring in just a couple of tinned anchovies -- assuming you've got enough greens for four people -- until they melt. Then stir in the drained leaves.

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