Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dueling Brussels Sprouts

Saturday night, in our inaugural dining room table dinner, I tried out two potential Brussels sprout recipes for Thanksgiving. Both recipes came from the new Gourmet Today cookbook, which we picked up after we heard about the demise of Gourmet magazine. I know, so sad.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic & Pancetta
serves 4

Active time: 10 minutes

Start to finish: 35 minutes

1 pound Brussel sprouts, trimmed & halved (or quartered, if large)

2 ounces slices pancetta, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup water

1. Put rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Toss together all ingredients except water in an 11 x 7-inch baking pan, then spread out in one layer. Roast, stirring once halfway through roasting, until sprouts are brown on edges and tender, about 25 minutes.

3. Stir in water to deglaze pan, over moderately high heat, scraping up brown bits. Serve warm.

Roasting the Brussels sprouts really brings out the sweetness. I have done something similar to this recipe before. I left out the third step in the recipe and did not deglaze the pan. It didn't really seem necessary and kind of a pain to do on the stove, which it does not explicitly state. I wouldn't recommend deglazing in the 450 degree oven unless you want a serious Brussels sprout facial with you dinner. Also for the duo of Brussels sprouts I halved the recipe. For the pancetta instead of mincing it, I cubed it. Maybe you got all kinds of ninja knife skills and can mince the heck out of something, but it seemed easier to cube the pancetta. Plus that gives you a nice bite of pancetta with the Brussels sprouts.

Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts
serves 8

Active time: 25 minutes

Start to Finish: 35 minutes

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 1/4 cups water
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed & halved lengthwise

1 cup heavy cream

2/3 cup (4 ounce) bottled peeled cooked chestnuts, coarsely crumbled

Combine butter, salt, pepper, and 1 cup water in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet and bring to a boil over high heat. Add Brussels sprouts, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove lid and boil over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until water has evaporated and sprouts are lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add cream and remaining 1/4 cup water and bring to a boil, stirring. Add chestnuts, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 2 minutes.

Again, I roughly halved this recipe and instead of a skillet I used a dutch oven. My thought is if you make this recipe with two pounds of Brussels sprouts there is no way they are all going to fit in a skillet.

Both recipes were delicious. The roasted Brussels sprouts with pancetta had a great smoky flavor. Pancetta is Italian unsmoked bacon and we all know everything is better with bacon. You just can't go wrong with roasting the Brussels sprouts. The second recipe created the same caramelized sweetness in pan roasting the Brussels sprouts but the cream and chestnuts really made into something luxurious.

Chestnuts...yum. The first time I ever tried a chestnut was on the streets in Chiang Mai during Loi Kratong, which is the most amazing festival with floating offerings on the river and floating lights into the sky. *sigh* Chestnuts, yes, the chestnuts add a nice sweetness with the Brussels sprouts and cream.

For Thanksgiving I will be making the recipe with chestnuts. Nothing says it's the holidays like chestnuts. They add a festive and dressy touch to the Brussels sprouts.

Last night with my leftover Brussels sprouts with chestnuts I made an Alfredo sauce, added the leftovers, and served over pasta. OMG! It was outstanding.

Here's what I did...

In a skillet I added about 2 tablespoons butter and got it melting.

Then I added 1 tablespoon of flour and mixed it in with the butter. Cooking it so the butter and flour got some color.

Next I added the little bit of cream I had in the fridge. It was the smallest container of cream that you can buy, which I think is a half pint. It was maybe at most a half cup.

To that I added some grated parmesan...or maybe it was pecorino. I didn't measure, just sprinkled straight from the container. Maybe about a quarter to a third cup of cheese. Oh yeah, and salt and pepper. Not too much salt, the cheese adds to the saltiness.

Once it was all stirred up and thickened I added my leftover Brussels Sprouts with chestnuts.

Meanwhile in another pot. Water is boiling and pasta is added. In fact, I started the pasta first because I knew the sauce would come together quickly. I used orecchiette, which takes approximately 15 minutes to cook. So when I had about ten minutes left on the pasta I started the sauce.

I drained the pasta, but didn't drain it dry, so that a little of the pasta water would thin the sauce. The pasta went quickly back into the pot, the sauce went on top, stirred them up together, and dinner was done. It was soooooo good.

The hubby has been traveling way too much and he is out of town again. Usually when he is gone I subsist on grilled cheese sandwiches and the like. I never cook anything too fancy, but this was so good that I am thinking that maybe I shouldn't be so lazy about cooking for one. Part of my problem is I am not really a fan of leftovers, but I ate my leftover pasta for lunch today and it was good. Not as good as last night good, but still yummy.

Guess what? I had never eaten a Brussels sprout until last year. Can you believe it? They are amazing and I cannot wait to get our garden going so we can grow our own for next year. Have you ever seen what they look like in the garden? They grow on the craziest stalk.

Aren't they amazing looking?

And so danged tasty!

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