Experiments in Brussels


Long-time readers of this blog are very aware of my fondness for all things Brussels sprouts. In particular, I really love the Bittman method of cooking them – slicing them in half, sauteeing in oil and garlic, then roasting until crispy deliciousness is attained. HOWEVER. There are times in a lady’s life when she craves something new, something different. She needs variety – excitement! She doesn’t want to completely discard the good thing she’s got going on, mind you, she just wants to spice things up a bit. At times like these, there’s only one thing to do: get the creative juices flowing and experiment!

I pondered the possibilities. Bacon is a traditional pairing for Brussels sprouts, as are nuts. A plan began to form in my brain for the sprouts in my fridge!

I’d decided to shred these sprouts, rather than halve them, to allow for quick cooking. Into the food processor they went, whirred into green confetti. While this was going on I was pan-frying a bit of pancetta we had in the freezer, cut into tiny bits that quickly browned into salty perfection. I also grabbed a handful of hazelnuts and roughly chopped them. Into the pancetta pan went the shredded sprouts and the nuts, along with a good portion of olive oil. I salted and peppered the whole mess and set about to cooking it, stirring frequently.

As the sprouts cooked, they began to soften, but also stick the pan a bit in caramelized hunks. To lift off from the pan, and because I was worried I’d used too many salty, rich flavors, I added a dose of lemon juice. When the sprouts seemed sufficiently tender, I decided they were done.

Her are the results:
DSC03622

They were, to be perfectly frank, delicious! Tender yet still a bit crisp, with just enough balance between the salty pancetta and the tart lemon juice. The hazelnuts amplified the nuttiness of the sprouts. Even Mr. Menace, who seemed dubious at first, pronounced them very good. I ended up using them as a platform for some maitake mushrooms I’d sauteed, and it was wonderful. I didn’t quite measure the ingredients, but I have enough of an idea that I’m including a recipe, should you want to experiment yourselves. If you take out the pancetta the entire dish goes from omnivorous delight to vegan – I’d just recommend amping the salt up a bit and perhaps adding a dash more olive oil!

    Experimental Sprouts

1 lb Brussels Sprouts, shredded (this is easiest if you have a food processor, obvs)
1/4 cup of cubed pancetta
1/4 cup of hazelnuts
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of half lemon

Cook the pancetta over medium-high heat until lightly browned. Add the sprouts, hazelnuts, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 10 minutes, or until sprouts begin to brown. Add lemon juice and cook an additional 5 minutes or to taste. Enjoy!

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