We spent last Friday and Saturday confined indoors due to Storm Abigail, the first UK storm to be named under the Met Office’s Name Our Storms project. Schools were cancelled on the Friday because the risk of the high winds blowing the school buses over, and so duvet days were had with much lounging and napping on the couch playing video games and watching Christmas films on daytime tv.
Not a rather bad way to spend a storm, I should think.
However, come Sunday
we I was getting rather restless, so just imagine my delight when I woke up in the morning, checked the BBC Weather app on my iPad and found out it was going to be a lovely day with wind speeds in single digits!
Madam and I packed a picnic lunch, I gave my husband strict instructions as to what to do with the defrosted leg of Shetland lamb just in case I wasn’t back in time to put it in the oven, and we headed out with our bikes.
Owning a bicycle again was #32 on my 40 Things to Do Before I Turn 40 list (I haven’t had owned a bicycle since I was 16!), and I’m delighted to say that has now been crossed off. A friend kindly gifted me a second-hand bicycle which I sent to the Shetland Community Bike Project for some TLC and repairs, and this was my first trip out on it.
Our trip was briefly interrupted while we waited for the tide to go out. Da Brigs, an old stone bridge crossing the sea, was completely submerged – a perfect time for a picnic on top of the nearby rocky areas (and to check the condition of my geocache!).
We covered a good 11.88 miles, according to RunKeeper, and returned home ruddy cheeked, exhilarated and with slightly damp feet. Just what was needed after being cooped up for two days.
When we returned home, the leg of lamb was roasting nicely in the oven thanks to my husband, and I’d previously bookmarked a recipe from Epicurious I was keen to try out – Creamy Baked Polenta with Herbs and Green Onions. There were sprout tops in the fridge, a new ingredient to me, an unexpected appearance in our latest veg box.
Sprout tops are the clusters of leaves that grow at the crown of a Brussels sprouts stalk (and not neglected Brussels sprouts as I initially thought, like a marrow is a neglected courgette), and apparently they are quite good for you.
Lately I’ve taken to steaming and halving Brussels sprouts, sauteing them with a bit of butter and some bacon and serving it as a side to a roast dinner. I figured I’d do something similar with the sprout tops, but add a spoonful of Canadian maple syrup and use the streaky pork from the Anderson Butchers sitting in my fridge instead of bacon.
Oh my goodness gracious me what a combination! The crispy streaky pork, the maple syrup sweetness, the flavour of the sprout tops (which is not as overpowering as Brussels sprouts can sometimes be) on a bed of creamy polenta – so, so very good!
I thought the original polenta recipe was fine enough, and it was certainly easy to make, but the baked recipe serves six – a bit too generous for our family size (and general refusal of the children to eat any of it). I thought it needed a bit of tweaking – more cream, and perhaps made on the stove top for a quicker meal for two (ie: the two adults in this house who will actually eat it).
With the remaining sprout tops I made myself this lunch today (actually I made it because it was so good I was really excited to share the recipe!) – a quick and easy comfort food meal for one, or enough for two as a side for some slow roasted Shetland lamb or braised short ribs.
Advance preparation is the secret to cooking this meal. Have your Parmesan ready grated, your sprout tops lightly steamed and roughly chopped, your pork cubed and the rest of your ingredients measured out before you start as you’ll be working with three different pans at once.
If you don’t fancy making the polenta (it’s not everyone’s cup of tea! Did you know, according to Judith over at Mostly About Chocolate, that they (chocolate people) use polenta to cleanse their palate when judging chocolate?), do try the maple glazed sprout tops with streaky pork. You can substitute the sprout tops for steamed, halved Brussels sprouts and the streaky pork for bacon or cubed pancetta.
OTHER POLENTA RECIPES YOU MIGHT LIKE
Spicy Rainbow Chard on Creamy Polenta by Cooksister
Soft Polenta with Broccoli-Blue Cheese Sauce & Griddled Tenderstem by Food to Glow
Hickory Smoked Slow Cooked Pulled Lamb & Grits by Franglais Kitchen
Saucy Mushroom Polenta Bake by Family, Friends, Food