Cooking Brussel Sprouts

Cooking Brussel Sprouts


The number of stories we hear in the restaurant about people’s horrific experiences eating brussel sprouts in their youth are almost innumerable. Grey, bitter, pungent, stinky and just generally errgggh are some of the common descriptors that people express. There is almost a sense of trauma as the memories flood back of being force fed these inedible morsels by what sounds like dictatorial parents on a torture rampage.

I was by no means spared from this and most certainly shared a great dislike of this vegetable in my youth. I know now that it was simply a lack of understanding of how to cook them that was to blame. In our house all the evening’s vegetables would commonly be placed in the steamer at the same time with their length of cooking being determined by the period required to cook the potatoes. We would do almost anything to avoid having to put these little balls of horror into our mouths.

My views of this vegetable changed when I was taken to a small Elizabeth St restaurant in Hobart called Mit Zitrone by my food passionate aunt and uncle. It was nothing more than a side dish of brussel sprouts with speck, but it changed my whole perspective on this ingredient. How could brussel sprouts taste sweet, savoury and alive all at the same time? How could they pair in with the salty, umami taste of the speck yet hold such an individual character all their own? How could my most hated vegetable now be the highlight of this culinary experience?

I went on to learn several valuable lessons regarding cooking vegetables following this experience, including that all vegetables cook at vastly varying times, something I am still to convince my mother of. The Brassica family which includes brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage etc, have a particular requirement of not being overcooked. They contain compounds called glucosinolates which have a tendency to release a large amount of sulphur when overcooked, hence the very common aversion to grey and smelly overcooked sprouts. The simple solution…don’t overcook your brussel sprouts.

We have used brussel sprouts in a variety of ways on our menu, pairing them with speck or bacon, nuts including hazelnut and walnuts, sourdough crumb and a variety of purees including white bean, cauliflower and parsnip. They are such a versatile winter ingredient but the one underlying rule we maintain is how we cook them. We blanch to reduce the bitterness and them roast to bring out the sweetness. And never, never overcook.

Honey roasted Brussel sprouts with parsnip puree and hazelnuts

½ kg Brussel sprouts,
60ml honey
50g roasted and crushed hazelnuts
500g parsnips, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
40g butter
50ml cream

To make the parsnip puree, blanch off the parsnips until tender and then strain thoroughly. Place in a pan with the cream and butter and heat until the cream boils and the butter melts. Then puree with a hand blender, seasoning with lots of salt and pepper to taste.

Blanch the brussel sprout by pouring boiling water over them and leaving for 2 min. Refresh them in ice cold water for 60 sec and then spin dry in a salad spinner Toss the brussel sprouts in a little oil, lots of rock salt and the honey, and roast on a very high temperature until they are golden and slightly crispy, about 8-10 mins. Spread the parsnip puree on your serving plate and top with the brussel sprouts and hazelnuts.

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Jess’s Fermented Chilli Sauce

Jess’s Fermented Chilli Sauce


Pete was lucky enough to catch up with our good friend Jess from Krondorf Creek Farm recently for a Sunday brunch session of crepes and coffee. The clear instructions for the brunch were bring your own toppings and have a great time.

This is a lovely demonstration of the community here in the region, and with the wonderful array of people that Jess manages to bring around her, the variety of crepe toppings was plentiful and varied. There was however one condiment that Pete came back raving about, Jess’s home fermented chilli sauce, something that was abundant with wonderful chilli flavour and demonstrates a fantastic traditional preserving technique that many home cooks shy away from, but needn’t, as it’s rather simple and the results are fantastic.

Fermentation is one of the earliest forms of food preservation and can be used in a variety of ways with a wide range of ingredients. Although most commonly related to the production of wine in the Barossa, fermentation in its wider scope relates to the action of microorganisms on food and can result in some wonderful flavour developments. Think of yoghurt, cheese, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, beer, dill pickles, salami; these are all examples of foods that have been preserved using fermentation. Doody

When fermenting vegetable like chilli, we are using fermentation to preserve the product through acidification. More specifically we are increasing lactic acid produced through fermentation to stabilise the product. A wonderful bonus of this is the zippy flavour the increased acid brings to the final product, and this is exactly what makes this chilli sauce of Jess’s so delightful.

The recipe Jess uses comes from Daphne Lambert and her wonderful book ‘Fermenting – Recipes & Preparations’. Daphne’s recipe is based on using whey left over from making labneh and is a wonderful starter culture for a fermentation such as this. Leftover whey, however, is not a common household item for most people so the recipe we have included is based on a lacto-fermentation using a salt brine. This method uses the salt to kill off bad bacteria and allow the good lactobacillus bacteria to survive and to start fermenting the sugars into lactic acid. If you are keen to try out Daphne’s recipe feel free to let us know next time you are coming into Harvest Kitchen as we always have some whey left over from our labneh production and would be more than happy to pass some on.

1 cup of hot chilles – you can use any variety you like and adjust the type you use to suit your taste
2 garlic cloves
1 cup water
½ tablespoon salt

Roughly chop your chillies and garlic and place into a glass jar, something like a Fowler’s preserving jar or large jam jar is perfect. Dissolve the salt in the water by heating and stirring and then allow the brine solution to cool to room temperature. Once cool, add the brine to the jar containing your chillies and garlic and cover loosely with a muslin cloth or similar. Store in a coolish place for about 3 days and give it a stir about twice a day to prevent mould from forming on the top.

After about 3 days the solution will being to smell more acidic and almost sour and the liquid in the jar will being to become cloudy. At this stage place all the ingredients into a blender and process until smooth and paste like. Transfer this mix into your preferred storage like a glass jar and store in the fridge for up to 3-4 months. The chilli paste will continue to develop flavour in the fridge.

You can make the final product shelf stable by adding additional vinegar and dropping the pH below 4.0 but we recommend getting a little more familiar with fermenting technique before trying this.

Good luck and happy fermenting and make sure you call in and say hello to Jess at Krondorf Creek Farm next time you are in the valley and if you are lucky enough she may even let you try her chilli sauce.

Download a pdf version here

Fried Chicken Tips

Fried Chicken.jpg

Fried Chicken Tips

Fried chicken is a beloved dish common to home kitchens all around the globe with many cultures having their own individual take on this classic. It is a Barossa favourite and continually one of the most popular and talked about dishes at Harvest Kitchen and who doesn’t love biting into a super crunchy coating to find a succulent piece of spiced chicken inside.

Here are some of our chef Jamie’s top tips that we have learnt in the restaurant and that we hope will help you to produce fantastic fried chicken in your kitchen

1.        Brine your bird
Brining is the secret to locking in flavour and moisture in your meat and is essential for succulent fried chicken. The best way to do this is to put your chicken in a brine solution in the fridge overnight before you intend to cook.
A basic brine for chicken is made at a ratio of 4 tablespoon of salt per litre of water. You can then add any variety of aromatics to this that you like but a good base set is lemon, thyme, bay leaf, peppercorn and then something sweet like brown sugar, honey or maple syrup.

2.        Use good clean oil in a thick base pot.
The easiest way to cook fried chicken at home is to shallow fry wonderful result. The most important item to use when shallow frying is a good thick base and preferable thick-walled pot. Something like a Le Creuset is perfect and will help you retain an even heat to your oil while frying. Use an oil with a high smoke point like canola, grapeseed or peanut oils and remember not to overheat your oil as the coating of your chicken will darken before it is cooked through. A temperature of around 170deg is perfect and a digital probe thermometer is really handy for getting this right. Have about 2-3 cm of oil in you pot, enough to cover half the chicken pieces.

3.        Be rough and ruthless with your coating
To get a crunchy coating on your chicken it is important to get a good amount of flour on the outside. Using a two-stage coating with spiced flour and buttermilk and adding a little rice flour or corn flour to your regular flour will help achieve this result. We mix onion and garlic powder along with sweet paprika, salt and a little cayenne pepper into our flour mix. Make up two bowls of the flour mix with a bowl of buttermilk between them. Dip the chicken into the first flour then drop it into the buttermilk and get a good wet coating on it. While still dripping with buttermilk drop it into the second flour bowl and roughly press the flour into the chicken. This helps to get all those wonderful crunchy nodules on the outside of the chicken. Leave the chicken to rest for 10 - 15 mins before frying to ensure the coating adheres to the chicken. This also allows the chicken to come up to room temperature before cooking and ensures the meat will cook through.

4.        Rest on a rack
Make sure when your chicken comes out of the fryer you leave it to rest on a rack, something like a cake rack is perfect. Resting your chicken on paper towel or similar will cause your coating to go soggy. Resting the meat will ensure it is moist and juicy when you come to eat it and will give you the opportunity to do a couple of batches. Don’t forget everyone will want seconds.

5.        Serve with something fresh and crunchy
Fried chicken is best accompanied by a side with some acid and a little fresh crunch. A good slaw of some type is always good, and you can be super creative with this. One of our favourite tools for this is a Japanese grater that you can pick up from most Asian grocers. It is a really simple way to get a fine julienne of fresh vegetable and can be used with carrot, celeriac, cucumber, apple to add to some finely sliced red cabbage to make a great colourful slaw. Add in some fresh lemon juice, mayo and dill along with some salt and pepper and you are good to go.

Download a pdf version here