Brussels sprout macaroni and cheese with roasted pheasant crowns

Brussels sprouts are a brassica, a nutritionally rich and important family of vegetables that includes cabbages, broccoli and kale.

The much maligned, but wonderful, Brussels sprout doesn’t deserve to be ignored. In an attempt to widen the diminutive vegetable’s appeal, supermarkets are stocking sweeter and nuttier varieties. I tried to grow a less bitter strain this year, but, in all honesty, they taste the same to me. If I want my young daughter to eat sprouts, I simply tell her they’re Barbie’s cabbages – that seems to do the trick.

Brussels-sprout macaroni and cheese with roasted pheasant crowns (serves 4)

250g macaroni
500g Brussels sprouts
4 rashers of bacon cut into lardons
4 sprigs thyme
300ml milk
250ml single cream
250g grated Cheddar
100g grated Pecorino
200g fresh breadcrumbs
2 cloves garlic, crushed
100g chopped hazelnuts
80g butter
Olive oil
4 pheasant crowns (ask your butcher)

Preheat your oven to 180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4. Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until it’s very al dente (it will cook further in the oven). Add the chopped Brussels sprouts for the last two minutes, before draining in a colander and then setting aside.

Take a large frying pan and add the lardons of bacon and the thyme. Once cooked, add the pasta and Brussels sprouts to the pan and mix it around, then pour the milk and cream over them and add the cheeses, before stirring it all together over a low heat.

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Remove the thyme stalks and pour into an ovenproof dish. Use your fingertips to mix together the breadcrumbs, garlic, hazelnuts and butter and scatter them evenly over the pasta, then bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

While the macaroni and cheese is in the oven, heat a splash of olive oil in an ovenproof dish and brown the pheasant crowns on all sides, then place the dish in the oven for about 8–15 minutes (depending on the size of the crowns) or until the juices run clear. Serve for a delicious dish of warming comfort food on a chilly autumn night.

More ways with Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprout macaroniBubble and squeak with poached eggs
Steam 20 Brussels sprouts over boiling water until tender and then use the back of a fork to break them up. Melt butter in a non-stick pan and add 3 rashers of chopped bacon, a chopped onion and some crushed garlic. Cook until the onion is translucent, but not brown. Place about 500g of mashed potato in a separate bowl and add all the other ingredients, season, mix well and form into patties using your hands. Dust them in flour and fry in butter until golden brown. Serve topped with a runny-yolked poached egg.

Shaved Brussels sprouts with soba noodles and sesame
Finely slice 15 Brussels sprouts or use a processor to do it for you. Add 3cm grated ginger and a finely sliced spring onion. Fry it all together over a medium heat with some sesame oil for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, cook 200g soba noodles as per the packet instructions. Toss the two together and then pour a dressing made from 1tbspn rice vinegar, 2tspns low-salt soy sauce, a clove of crushed garlic and 1tspn sesame oil over them. Scatter with toasted sesame seeds and serve.