Author Laura B. Russell helps even the kitchen novice demystify the many delicious ways to prepare this extremely healthy class of vegetables in Brassicas (Ten Speed Press, 2014). Russell offers a diverse range of recipes for leafy greens, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, and more in one easy access location. The following excerpt pairs pancetta and fig glaze in a tasty charred Brussels sprouts recipe.
Nothing tastes better with Brussels sprouts than cured pork, which is why I unapologetically offer you recipes that flavor sprouts with both pancetta and bacon. Here, the salty pancetta plays well with the sweetness from the fig jam, and you can finish the dish with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar to add a tangy note (see Variation, later in this article). I found fig jam near the grocery store’s cheese counter (not in the jams and jellies aisle), but you could also try apricot or peach jam instead. You may want to add a touch more jam than I suggest, but strive for a subtle sweetness rather than a cloying, sticky mess.
Charred Brussels Sprouts Recipe with Pancetta and Fig Glaze
• 3 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
• 3 to 4 ounces pancetta, diced
• 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved (or quartered if large) through the stem end (about 6 cups)
• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 2 tablespoons fig jam
• 1 tablespoon water
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. In a large (12 inches or wider) frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes, until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a small bowl. Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Add the Brussels sprouts, keeping them in a single layer as much as possible. Having a few extra sprouts is fine, but if they are mounded in a pile, they will not brown or cook evenly. If necessary, use a larger pan, cook them in two batches, or pull out the extra for another use. Stir in the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until the Brussels sprouts are tender and well browned—even charred in spots. If the sprouts are browning too quickly, lower the heat to medium.
2. Add the fig jam and the water and stir until the jam melts and coats the Brussels sprouts. Add the reserved pancetta and the pepper and stir to combine. Taste and add additional salt or pepper if needed. Serve warm. Serves 4
Variations: For a sweet, salty, tangy version, add a drizzle (a teaspoon or less) of balsamic vinegar at the end. Aged balsamic is an especially good choice. Although I prefer pancetta here (I like its unsmoked rich pork flavor), you can use bacon in its place.
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