Friday, January 3, 2014

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta  -- cut side down is important

I solved my problem -- for how to cook a veggie when the oven is tied up with a turkey or a roast.   I stuck with Brussels sprouts since Tom really likes them and gave me a big grumpy face when I suggested with have a different veggie this holiday season.
So I figured out that I could still get our 16 lb. turkey in the oven and have a rack below for a tray of sprouts, if I used my slimmest baking sheet. 

But that's the hottest part of the oven, and the door opens and closes a lot during the last hour of roasting the turkey, as we baste and check for doneness, so I needed a way to cook the veggies without burning them.

To make them, you will need pancetta (Italian bacon) -- between 2 and 4 ounces cubed-- and about 2 pounds of Brussels sprouts.


I pre-cooked the pancetta both times, long before I put the turkey or the roast in, and just set the tray of sprouts for later.

The first time I made them, I removed the pancetta, which made "Bacon-bits" to add, at the end before serving.  But 4 ounces of pancetta is way too much for one tray of sprouts so I cut the quantity in half the second time. 

And I decided to leave the pancetta in the pan the whole time.

To prepare the Brussels sprouts, wash and thoroughly remove all of the bruised outer leaves and cut off their bases, and cut in half. 
Place them face down into the pancetta fat--- all of them.  Take the time to do this.  It will make them soft and creamy.  Generously add pepper, but go a little lighter on the salt due to the pancetta.  

Now the piece de resistance ---and I can't believe I forgot to take a photo of this step.  I remembered that Carl H. said that the secret to his great Hayden Sprouts was to cover them tightly in foil, and add just a little water before you do.  So, that's what I did. 

I don't know how it works --- but it's the perfect combination of steaming and browning --- they cook perfectly in their little tent of foil, and sitting in the pancetta fat. 

These are not crisp, bright green Brussels sprouts--- they are pale green, soft and creamy and not too cabbage-tasting. 

I made them, first, to go with our Thanksgiving turkey and then again with our Christmas roast, and they were excellent. 

Both times I cooked them on the bottom rack for the last 30 to 40 minutes of roasting the main event.


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