Fall Fest: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Pancetta and Garlic

by feastonthecheap on November 8, 2010

Mariel here. Growing up in a caterer’s kitchen, dinner rarely relied on the ordinary. Spaghetti with plain tomato sauce? No way. Chicken fingers with honey? Not a chance. MacDonalds???? I WISHED.

Instead we gobbled up Welsh Rarebit and fresh Tortellini al Pesto; Homemade Hoisin Chicken, Sausage-Spiked White Bean Soup and Jalapeno Crab Cakes – it all depended on whatever ingredients were leftover from the weekend’s party circuit. My mom spent hours prepping food and we didn’t appreciate her kitchen wizardry until we were full grown, but there was one thing we were grateful for all the way through: she never once tried to feed us Brussels Sprouts.

As I became handier in front of a stove, these reviled greens started to intrigue me. While my mother is my main muse, I’ve spent a good deal of time getting to know Mark Bittman via his Bitten Blog (now the Minimalist), and a few years back he posted on the unique pleasure of a well-done sprout. So, I gave it shot, following his instructions to a T. I was thrilled with the results and now that I’ve become more comfortable wheeling and dealing in the kitchen, I’ve revised his recipe adding my own twists and tweaks.

The key to this dish is roasting the Brussels long enough that they release the odorific sulfuric-ness that so many people detest. Once that’s long-gone, what remains is deliciously crisp and earthy, salty and a little smokey. If you’re looking for a healthier Thanksgiving side – something to snack on between bites of buttery potato – look no further. Just don’t ask me to eat Lima Beans.

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Fall Fest: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Pancetta and Garlic
Serves 4

2 pints Brussels sprouts (about 18-ounces) – $6.00
4-oz diced pancetta (or thickly-sliced prosciutto) – $3.99
5 Tablespoons olive oil – stock
2 Tablespoons white wine – stock
5 cloves garlic, sliced lengthwise – stock
Ground pepper – stock
Grand total assuming well-stocked kitchen: $9.99
Cost per serving: $2.49

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly paint a baking sheet with olive oil, set aside.

2. Trim bottom of Brussels sprouts, and slice each in half top to bottom.

3. Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over high heat until it shimmers; put sprouts cut side down in one layer in the pan. Reduce heat to medium and add white wine, garlic, pancetta and sprinkle with pepper. Cook the sprouts, undisturbed, until they begin to brown on bottom, about 5-8 minutes.

4. Transfer the sprouts, garlic and pancetta to an oiled baking sheet and cook (cut side down) until sprouts are quite brown and tender and pancetta crisps up, about 15 minutes.

5. Let cool for 3 minutes and serve warm.