It’s a little early for Brussel sprouts, but with our weird weather this fall they’re already on the scene at farmers markets and stores around town.
Like a lot of people, I’ve had to make an effort to reconnect with Brussel sprouts. Back in the day, my mom would pretty much mutilate them (sorry, Mom), cooking them to tasteless oblivion. Add in the thick layer of sulfur and stink, and you aren’t helping the cause of encouraging kids to eat those veggies with enthusiasm.
Leave those stinky memories behind, because this dish is completely yummy. I improvised with a little bacon, some crunchy nuts, and a squeeze of fresh tangerine; the result is a fall menu addition that’s a hit with both the little and big people. I think it might even earn a place at my Thanksgiving table this year.
The fresh ingredients are what really make the flavors work. You should be able to find what you need at a Whole Foods market or produce store. I buy my Marcona almonds at Costco or Sam’s Club — they’re the best price I’ve found. Justine, don’t you dare buy the Trader Joe’s Rosemary Marcona almonds, it’ll really mess up this dish’s seasoning.
Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Almonds
Serves 6 as a side dish
3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 ounces pancetta, chopped in a one-inch dice
1 small leek, sliced
2 heaping cups of Brussel sprouts, cleaned and sliced in half
½ tsp of kosher salt
Pepper to taste
1 clove of garlic, minced
½ cup Marcona almonds (I like to keep them whole to add a nice crunch)
3 tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar
Juice of one tangerine
½ tsp fresh tarragon, chopped
Heat two tablespoons of the extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet, when oil is hot add the diced pancetta. Sauté on medium heat until the pancetta has rendered most of its fat and is red in color. Remove the pancetta from the pan and onto paper towels, leaving the oil in the pan.
Next, add the sliced leek to the pan with the oil, followed by the Brussel sprouts. Cook on medium heat until the edges of the sprouts are golden brown (about 20 minutes), stir occasionally and be careful not to burn the leek.
Then, add salt and pepper along with the garlic and cook for one or two minutes more, until the garlic is fragrant. Drizzle in the balsamic vinegar and tangerine juice, stirring to incorporate. Once the juices are soaked up, add the tarragon and the remaining tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil. Serve warm.