Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta and Pecans
Hello! This week’s weather in New York has been crazy, huh? First it’s freezing, then it’s blissfully 40 degrees, and then—bam—it’s a blizzard. Well, if you find yourself snuggling under a blanket keeping warm I have some websites to share with you that I am really loving right now:
- The Blue Hour – This is a photo blog by a guy who lived in Brooklyn until recently and now lives in London. Each post is a breath of fresh air. He takes great photos that capture the feel of the moment, and he often includes little fun tidbits of information or even makes his readers a mix of music. How nice is that?.
- The Hungry Roach – Okay in full disclosure I am friends with Meg, who writes The Hungry Roach. However, this is a fabulous resource for choosing restaurants in New York. She only writes about the restaurants she approves of, and her taste in finding great little places is impeccable. This is my one and only stop for finding new places to try out in New York.
- The Pioneer Woman – I just began reading this blog a couple weeks ago and am obsessed. I am particularly fond of her Confessions and Photography sections, though a friend of mine raves about the Cooking section too. The writer is fun and quirky while also being really helpful when it comes to the photography. She lives on a cattle ranch out in the middle nowhere too so it is also a fun glimpse into her interesting life.
Okay, what is this blog of mine about? Oh, that’s right. Food. And I have a recipe for you that you will love. I swear that my best recipes come from when I have stuff in the fridge that I need to use up. I had a little bit of pancetta leftover from my Split Pea and Smoked Duck Soup, a handful of pecans left from Alabama that my mother gave me, some shallots from when I had my dinner party and needed them for the salad dressing, and of course I always have fresh Parmesan on hand. All I needed to do was buy some brussel sprouts and a great dish was about to be created.
Before making this dish, I did some research to get an idea of how others have made similar dishes. Pretty much every recipe I found either braised the sprouts or roasted them along with the pancetta. I wasn’t into either of those options so I went with my own method. I love, love roasting brussel sprouts. I love how they concentrate in flavor while the outside layers toast up and get crunchy. I was not going to ruin that love of mine with braising. However, as much as I wanted to roast the sprouts, I wasn’t so into the idea of roasting the pancetta with it. I wanted that part to be rich and moist. Plus I didn’t want to chance either the sprouts or the pancetta overcooking before the other was ready. I only have so many leftovers to play with and my heart was set on this dish.
So in the end, as you will see in the recipe below, I roasted the brussel sprouts on their own tossed with a little olive oil. I then slowly sauteed the pancetta and shallots in a skillet until the shallots began to caramelize and the pancetta developed its flavor. When the sprouts were ready, I added some butter to the skillet and tossed the sprouts with the pancetta, shallots, roasted pecans, and butter. Just when you think it can’t get better, I served it topped with fresh Parmesan. Yum. Another Yum.
Another thing I liked about doing the sprouts separate from the rest is that this method left the sprouts true to their own fresh, flavor. This was especially great since the mixture was so rich so the two halves kept their identity while complimenting each other too. Ahh, the beauty of cooking.
Okay, so here it is for about 3 side dish servings:
- 1 lb brussel sprouts, ends trimmed and halved (quartered if really large)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 oz pancetta, diced
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/3 cup roasted pecan halves, quartered
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh Parmesan cheese for garnish
- Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
- On a baking sheet, toss the brussel sprouts with the olive oil. Place in oven and roast until the brussel sprouts brown, mixing once. This should take about 20 minutes.
- While the brussel sprouts are roasting, in a skillet over medium low heat slowly saute the pancetta and shallot until the shallot starts to caramelize.
- Melt the butter to the skillet with the pancetta and shallot. Add the roasted brussel sprouts and pecans and toss.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste (remember that the pancetta is already salty so it will not need much).
- Serve with a generous amount of fresh Parmesan cheese grated on top.