Memories and healthy recipes for your dinner table.

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta & Onions

Brussels Sprouts notoriously have a bad wrap. Usually those claiming to despise them have never tried them or worse were scarred for life the first time they tried a mushy slimy sprout or cabbage.

Brussels sprouts are small little cabbage like sprouts that grow on a stalk. Brussels sprouts are part of the cruciferous family that includes: broccoli, kale, cabbage, mustard, turnips, rutabagas,and wasabi and horseradish. They were believed to have originated in Belgium near Brussels (hence the name) but there is some uncertainty to the claim. Based on historical records we do know that they were first introduced to France and England during World War I where they continue to be a popular food. French settlers who settled in Louisiana in the 1800’s brought them to America. Today brussels sprouts are mainly produced in California and Europe. They are a hardy plant tolerant of poor soil. When eaten regularly they may help prevent certain cancers and improve circulation.

Never ever buy frozen brussel sprouts or asparagus for that matter. Always buy fresh. Sprouts still attached to the stalk are preferable. Avoid sprouts that are discolored (yellow or brown leaves) or loose. Choose instead the smaller sprouts that are green. Brussels sprouts have a very short shelf life. Try to use within a few days of purchase.

The best way to prepare sprouts is roasted with a little oil. First wash then trim the bottom root part off. Not too much that too many leaves fall off. Next slice in half. Toss with a little oil, season with salt and pepper. Some recipes like this one suggest steaming them first. I am not a fan of steamed because they tend to loose flavor and can quickly turn too soft and rubbery.

If you skip the steaming part it will take about 10 to 15 minutes to brown. Ideally I this is your first experience with brussel sprouts cook the onions and pancetta as called for then toss in the sprouts turning to coat. Transfer to an oven safe pan and cook in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes. They should be tender enough to pierce with a fork but not mushy.

Source: Woman’s Day
1 1/2 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
4 oz pancetta, diced
1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced crosswise
1?2 tsp kosher salt
1?4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar (optional)

Bring 1-inch of lightly salted water to a boil in a large, deep skillet. Add sprouts and simmer, covered, until crisp-tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to cool.

Wipe out the skillet. Add pancetta and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towel–lined plate.

Add onion to drippings in skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden, 8 to 10 minutes.

Increase heat to medium-high. Add sprouts, salt and pepper, and cook, tossing, until heated through, about 3 minutes. Add pancetta and vinegar, if using, and toss to combine.

Use leftovers in an omelet the next morning.