Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Brussels Sprouts With Fig Balsamic and Pancetta

Brussels Sprouts...  When I was younger, the mere mention of those two words was enough to send shudders of pure revulsion through my body.  I suppose that could have been because Mama, bless her heart, boiled the bejeebers out of them until they no longer bore any similarity to the cute little mini cabbages that they once resembled. Trust me. It wasn't pretty.  Unfortunately, more often than not, Mama murdered destroyed prepared the majority of vegetables that way.

As I got older and developed my love of cooking, (and a more adventurous palate) I learned that the way to get the best flavors and textures from vegetables was to cook them for shorter periods of time, with maybe a few added ingredients or basic seasonings. These days, I can't think of a vegetable (well, other than peas or lima beans, that is) that I don't like.

This is just one of the many ways that we love our Sprouts...

Brussels Sprouts With Fig Balsamic and Crispy Pancetta
  • 2-3 Lbs Fresh Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
  • 2 Tbls Butter
  • 1/4 C Fig Balsamic Vinegar (you can substitute, see below)
  • 1/4 Lb Pancetta (Italian uncured bacon) chopped
  • Salt and Pepper

To Prepare Sprouts:

Carefully slice off a very thin piece of the stem end of each Sprout. You want to leave as much "stem" as possible so that they stay together when cooking.  Trim off any outer leaves that are damaged/brown or wilted.  Slice each Sprout in half, lengthwise.  Set aside.

(If you're not familiar with Pancetta, it's an uncured Italian bacon with a slightly salty and sweet taste. It isn't smoked. You can substitute regular bacon in this recipe, but I would highly recommend the Pancetta. For the sake of convenience, I buy it already chopped in my grocery store's pre-packaged deli department.)

For The Pancetta:

In a large skillet, cook the chopped Pancetta over medium to medium-high heat.  Watch it closely because just like any bacon, it can go from not quite done to burnt beyond all recognition in the blink of an eye. When it's crisp and golden brown, transfer it from the pan (with a slotted spoon) to a plate lined with paper towels to get rid of any excess fat.  Pour off all but a couple of tablespoons of the fat and return to pan to medium-low heat.

Add the halved Sprouts to the pan and saute them for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with a little salt and pepper.  Cook them until they are just starting to soften up a bit and beginning to brown slightly.

Add the Fig Balsamic and the Butter to the Sprouts, cover the pan with a lid or some foil and continue to cook over medium heat for another 3-5 minutes.  Remove the lid and turn up the heat to medium-high and cook another 2-3 minutes, stirring the Sprouts to make sure they're coated with the Vinegar and Butter and to help them caramelize.

(If you can't find the Fig Balsamic Vinegar, you can substitute with a plain Balsamic and a tablespoon of Honey.  I've even used Apple Cider Vinegar and Honey in a pinch.)

Garnish the sprouts with the reserved crispy Pancetta and serve!



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  1. Okay....I don't even like brussel sprouts and that sounds so good!

  2. We actually love brussel sprouts. Once I started buying fresh ones we were hooked and when I started roasting them (with a little olive oil, salt and pepper) we really loved them. I will try this recipe...I like a good balsamic vinegar on most anything!

  3. I love brussel sprouts, they don't love me, LOL. This looks delicious. Hugs!

  4. I read brussels sprouts and went ugghh. I still am not a fan. However, I thought I would drop in and say "Hi." I barely survived my test and I did get a result (though not a great one). Heck, it is over. That is something. Anyway, I am glad to see you are posting regular again!

  5. TF: Thanks for stopping by! I never liked them as a kid, but when they're not boiled to death and mushy (like most moms used to make them), they really are worth trying!

    Sue: I love doing them like that too. Roasting just does something to veggies. Brings out a certain richness and sweetness in them.

    Mary: Thank you my dear! I always have a good aged balsamic around, but I just felt that the fig balsamic would bring out more of the natural sweetness in the sprouts. Of course, the butter doesn't hurt either! LOL

    Katherine: I'm sorry they don't like you. If it's any help, this is also a great preparation for fresh spinach and other leafy greens. The only difference is that I throw in just a little bit of thinly sliced red onion as well.

    Robin: That's OK... We've all got foods that we just don't like, no matter how they're cooked. Glad you finally got some more definitive answers. I just wish they were better ones. You're always in my thoughts and prayers, kiddo. Hoping that more (and much better) answers are ahead for you.

  6. Hi Mary,
    This is an awesome dish, I just love the addition of the fig's and can't wait to make this for my family. It looks delicious! Hope you are having a great week and thanks so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  7. These look fantastic. I used to hate brussel sprouts until my wife, France, made them for me with butter and bacon. The fig balsamic sounds really fun.

  8. I hate lima beans, too - so dry! I adore brussel sprouts, especially baked with bacon bits (real ones), olive oil and seasoning (oh, like that Joshua commentor mentioned) - yum This one looks even better so I'm gonna try it for Thanksgiving this year!


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