Thursday, 13 October 2011

Advocate for the Brussels Sprout

I just got back from Europe. It was an amazing holiday, full of driving, exploring and eating. Our first stop was Brussels, Belgium. I was so excited about going to Brussels, for so many reasons, but food was definately one of them! Belgian Chocolates, Belgian Waffles, Liegois Waffles, Belgian Beers, Belgian Endive, Steak Frites, Moules, and our tiny loathed friends, the Brussels Sprouts. 

How did the Brussels Sprout get such a bum rap? Traditionally, home cooks would make brussels sprouts for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner as an after thought, spending more time and energy on the star attractions at the dinner table, like the turkey and the stuffing. Brussels sprouts would get no love and would be overcooked. Overcooking the sprout causes it to get grey and "sulferish" smelling. We all grew up being forced to eat the smelly suckers, hating every morsel. 

And what a shame too! According to sources, Brussels Sprouts are packed with anticancer properties (generally lost from boiling them), as well as indole-3-carbinol, a chemical that helps to amp up DNA repair in cells, as well as, Vitamins A, C, Folic Acid, Fibre, and some say they even help to fight colon cancer. 

My dear husband, grew up hating veggies and it's been my personal obsession to make him love veggies. So far, it's been really successful, but Brussels Sprouts were the ONE THING he refused to eat. He actually ate this dish and has been bragging to anyone willing to listen, that THESE Brussels Sprouts are to die for. Aaaahhh Mission Accomplished. 

I'm here to advocate the revival of the Brussels Sprout. These tiny bites need love and attention to deliver a nutritious and tasty side dish.

3-4 cups of Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, loose leaves peeled off, cut in half
1/2 cup of Pancetta, diced into 1/4" pieces
1 Tablespoon EVOO
3/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 Shallot, minced 
1/2 cup water
shavings of Pecorino Romano Cheese

Prep your Brussels Sprouts and soak them in a bowl full of cold water.

In a pan, heat your Balsamic Vinegar until it reduces by half, about 2 minutes over med-high heat. Stir in the butter, until it's melted. Set aside in a bowl. Whip your pan clean.

In your pan, add your EVOO and coat the bottom. Add your diced pancetta over medium heat and cover. Let the fat melt out. After about 5 minutes, the pancetta should be golden, so flip them and continue rendering out the fat and crisping up the pancetta for another 5 minutes. Spoon the pancetta into a paper towel-lined bowl. Keep the fat in the pan, but pull the pan off the heat

Drain and dry the Brussels Sprouts well (you can do this while the pancetta cooks away in the pan)

Place the Brussels Sprouts into the pan of Pancetta fat, cut side down (move fast, but don't burn yourself). Place back on the heat on medium-high heat

Add 1/2 Cup water and let it steam away until the water evaporates, about 5 minutes. 

Add the minced shallot. A minute later, add the crisped Pancetta and a couple spoonfuls of Balsamic Vinegar and toss to incorporate. Add more Balsamic as you see fit. You're just looking for a light glazing. 

Serve immediately topped with shavings of Pecorino Romano cheese. 

Optional, add toasted pine nuts for some crunch.

Oh My God So DELISH!


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