In our household, we are what you might call Brussels sprout snobs, and yes, that is the correct spelling. My wife will refuse to eat them before the first frost even though I tell her most of them are from California. For her, it is just a matter of principle. Both of us prefer them to be smaller than the size of a quarter as generally speaking, the smaller they are, the sweeter they are. I have always felt that these little beauties have gotten a bad rep, mostly due to culinary mistreatment. Once Brussels sprouts become over-cooked and gray, they start to produce these little nasty compounds that become very bitter and stinky… not very tasty. Not to mention that they lose most of their nutritional value. But when cooked properly, they are sweet, savory and down right delicious!
About a week ago, I was at a gas station, and I got a curious knock on my car window. I rolled it down and a gentleman asked me if I happened to have a set of jumper cables. I said “of course” and was happy to give him a hand in starting his panel truck. He explained to me that he and his co-pilot are farmers and they were on their way to the last farmers’ market of the season and their truck had stalled out. I helped them get it started and he wanted to show his gratitude by offering up some of his veggies that he had in the back of the truck. He opened up the door and I swear beams of golden light came pouring out! These guys had some of the most beautiful vegetables I have ever seen! There were fingerling potatoes, red and golden beets, kohlrabi, turnips and squashes of several varieties. Then I saw what would be my prize for my good deed… Brussels sprouts, and still on the stalk no less! Happily, he gave me two of them and said that I had a good eye for great food, as these were the sweetest ones that they had in years. I was so excited to go home and cook them, as I had just the recipe in mind for them.
Scordato Family Brussels Sprouts
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 3oz Pancetta, diced
- 1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed, halved
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
- 1 (or 2) tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
Heat oil in a large heavy sauté or cast iron pan over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook, turning occasionally, until crisp, about 5 minutes. Using tongs, transfer pancetta to paper towels to drain. Let cool. (Make sure pancetta is unreachable by children and fathers, or it will disappear before you need it again.)
While pancetta cools, add the Brussels sprouts to drippings in pan and increase the heat a bit to caramelize them which should take 5–7 minutes. Add raisins, shallot, and butter; cook, stirring often, until shallot is soft, about 3 minutes. Add broth to skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until broth has evaporated, 1–2 minutes. Stir in vinegar and pancetta and pine nuts. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
This dish would make a lovely addition to any Thanksgiving table.
What’s your favorite way to eat Brussels sprouts?