Thanks for your kind thoughts about yesterday. I really see bad days as a challenge - it may sound old and trite but each thing that goes wrong is a challenge and I love to win so I just roll with the punches! In hindsight, my bets days are also my worst days. Ha!
Moving on to better things . . .
This recipe is a favourite of mine. I love the way that the flavours come together in this dish. The recipe was originally in Fine Cooking. They have changed their web site so that certain recipes can only be accessed with a membership and this was one of them. Needless to say I immediately took out a membership!
The great thing about this recipe is the way the layers of flavours come together - salty pancetta, sweet aged balsamic, and the earthy brussels sprouts (which take on a sweet flavour after braisng). It isn't Thanksgiving without these so for my friends from south of the border . . .
Balsamic Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta
2 oz. pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1/2 cup) 1 to 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil 10 oz. Brussels sprouts (about 18 medium sprouts), trimmed and halved through the core 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar Freshly ground black pepper 2 Tbs. unsalted butter Kosher salt
In a heavy 10-inch straight-sided sauté pan set over medium- low heat, slowly cook the pancetta in 1 Tbs. of the oil until golden and crisp all over, 10 to 15 minutes.
With a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a plate lined with paper towels, leaving the fat behind. You should have about 2 Tbs. of fat in the pan; if not, add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil. Have ready 1/2 cup water. Put the pan over medium-high heat and arrange the sprouts cut side down in a single layer. Cook undisturbed until nicely browned, 2 to 3 minutes. When the sprouts are browned, add the water to the pan, cover immediately, and simmer until the sprouts are tender when poked with a fork or skewer, about 3 minutes. (If the water evaporates before the sprouts get tender, add more water, 1/4 cup at a time.) With a slotted spoon, transfer the sprouts to a plate. Return the pan to medium-high heat and if any water remains, let it boil off. Add the balsamic vinegar and a few grinds of pepper. Boil the vinegar until it’s reduced to about 2 Tbs. and looks lightly syrupy, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the butter, and stir until melted. Return the sprouts and pancetta to the pan and swirl and shake the pan to evenly coat the sprouts with the sauce. Season to taste with salt and more pepper and serve.
From Fine Cooking 74, pp. 30
Let's get one thing clear up front - the vegetable is named BrusselS Sprouts. There is an 's' there - this must be one of the most miss-spelled vegetables of all time. Why Brussels? Apparently they were named after the area where they wqere first cultivated.
Description: These tiny cabbages grow on tall, thick stalks.
Selection: Choose bright green sprouts smaller than a ping-pong ball. They should feel firm and crisp and be tightly closed. Sprouts on the stalk will keep longer.
Brussels sprouts grow together in a tight spiral pattern on a thick stalk with a burst of leaves at the top.
While some specialty markets carry Brussels sprouts still on the stalk, you are most likely to find them as individual sprouts, varying in size from an olive to a golf ball. While you can find Brussels sprouts all year round, their peak growing season in North American is autumn through early spring.
To ensure you are buying the freshest sprouts, look for those that have bright green leaves. Old sprouts will tend to have yellow, wilted leaves and have a strong odour that is similar to cabbage.
Avoid sprouts that are puffy or soft by choosing those that are firm and compact and slightly larger than an olive. Be sure to choose sprouts of a comparable size to ensure they will cook evenly.
Look at the leaves and stem - tiny holes may indicate the presence of worms or plant lice, make sure the stem of the sprout is white and firm.
Storage and handling: Store in a loosely sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator for no more than 2 days. Before serving, remove from stalk, peel off the outer layer or two of leaves, and take a thin slice off the stem end. Rinse in cold water. Cut an X in the core for even cooking.
Preparation: Steam small brussels sprouts 6-8 minutes, medium ones 8-10 minutes, large ones 10-12 minutes. Boil in small amount of water until just tender, 4-5 minutes for small sprouts, 5-8 minutes medium, 8-12 minutes large. Sauté thinly sliced sprouts in a flavorful fat (butter, olive oil, bacon grease) for 4-5 minutes (SIS, p. 199). Microwave a half pound of sprouts in a covered dish with 1⁄4 cup water; small sprouts take 2 minutes, medium ones 4 and large ones 8.
Nutrients: Vitamins A, B6, C, K, folate; potassium; cancer-preventing compounds sulforaphane, isothiocyanate and indoles; fiber.
Brussels sprouts are full of nutrients and contain significant amounts of vitamin C. In fact, gram for gram, Brussels sprouts contain nearly fifty percent more vitamin C than an orange. Just four to six Brussels sprouts contain the adult daily requirement for vitamin C.
Like other cruciferous vegetables, Brussels sprouts contain nitrogen compounds called indoles, known for their cancer fighting properties. Brussels sprouts are also a good source of folate, potassium, vitamin K, fibre and beta carotene.
Nutritional information per serving (4 sprouts): 33 kcal, 7 g carbohydrate, 0 g fat, 3 g protein, 3 g fibre
According to Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating, 1 serving of Brussels sprouts equals 4 sprouts
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