Festive sides: braised red cabbage & roasted sprouts with bacon

Right I know what you're all thinking: roasted brussel sprouts? Well guys let me tell you, they are really, really, really nice roasted. I used to think I wasn't a great lover of the sprout, but in actual fact I just wasn't in love with the boiled sprout I'd be told to eat as a child, which turned into I don’t like sprouts as an adult. As a nation we have come such a long way in how we prep our veggies and the soggy vegetable accompaniment is long gone! Say hello to roasted sprouts with sweet and sharp raisins, bacon and onion. I know it doesn't sound amazing but trust me guys it works and it’s so good!

Then I'm also doing a traditional British winter favourite braised red cabbage, with onion, apple and spices. Only this MC&L version has no sugar and no butter and to be honest the dish doesn't suffer for it. It’s such a wonderful festive colour and while great with turkey, red cabbage of any type goes well with venison and pork.


So starting off with the brussel sprouts and before you think, I'm not doing brussel sprouts, stop and remember IT'S CHRISTMAS YOU HAVE TO DO THEM (and you have to eat a whole Terry's chocolate orange to yourself while watching the Corrie Christmas Special).

Serves 4/5 as a side. You will need:

  • 450g baby brussel sprouts
  • 75g unsweetened raisins
  • ½ a red onion sliced
  • 3 slices of thick bacon rind only trimmed, and cut into strips
  • Olive oil
  • 125mls sweet vinegar e.g. cider, rice or sherry
  • Salt & pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 220C.
  2. Wash and remove the outer layer of each sprout. If the outer layer doesn’t come off easily then just leave it. Place in a bowl, drizzle with some olive oil, salt and pepper and combine coating the sprouts. Place on foil on a baking tray and roast until golden brown round the edges - about 25 mins.
  3. Heat, don’t boil, the vinegar in a small pot and when very warm add the raisins, leave on the heat for 2 or so mins then remove from the heat and put to one side for 15mins.
  4. Heat a pan to a med heat, add the bacon, there should be enough fat left for it to cook easily but if not add a tiny but of olive oil to get it going. Cook until really crispy about 7 minutes-ish.
  5. Add the onion to the bacon and fry for 2 mins.
  6. Drain the raisins and add them only (no vinegar) to the onions & bacon. 
  7. Remove sprouts from oven, add to pan and give it a good mix. If your sprouts come out ‘too golden’ then those leaves are very easily removed, just pull them off and the rest of the sprout is ok.

Braised red cabbage feeds 6-8 as a side. You will need:

  • ½ a head of red cabbage - shredded
  • One cooking & one eating apple – cored, peeled chopped small
  • White onions chopped small (same onion/apple ratio c225g)
  • 1 sml clove of garlic – crushed
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Sprinkling of cinnamon
  • Runny honey
  • 1.5 tbsp wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Wash and prep your cabbage. Remove the outer layer and the stalk. The stalk on a red cabbage is thicker than the green so don’t be shy when cutting it out. Then using a big sharp knife shred the cabbage.
  2. In a casserole dish place a layer of the shredded cabbage on the bottom.
  3. Add a layer of onions and apple, sprinkle on a small pinch of nutmeg, a pinch of cinnamon, a good drizzle of organic runny honey and some of the garlic.
  4. Another layer of cabbage.
  5. Another layer of apple, onion, garlic, spices & honey.
  6. Keep going until you reach the top or run out of ingredients. 
  7. Pour the wine vinegar over it; put the lid on and into the oven for 2.5 hrs. This cabbage dish is great because t can be done the day before and just heated up. Traditionally this would just be made with cooking apples; however, as we’re not using sugar I find one cooking and one eating apple works a treat.

So come on gang get some festive colours and Christmas flavours on your table this year. There will be no tip this Tuesday as I'll be getting ready for Christmas.

Jingle bells and ho ho ho
Lots of Love