thanksgiving week edition
notes from maggie's farm
Easy, quick, healthy, fresh, easily converts the most stubborn of green veggie dislikers, and leaps tall buildings with a.....okay. I'll stop. But this has become a family favorite, and a cook's favorite, too. From beginning to service takes under an hour for an impressive side (and a good portion of that is just roasting itself away....).
I've always had a bit of a soft spot for these little baby cabbages, simply because I remember my youngest daughter, after her first experience, saying "Russell's a pretty good cook". "What, honey?", I asked, as I often had to have her repeat most of the funny stuff that came out of her 6 year-old mouth. "Russell's Sprouts, moooom. (Mom, you are so slow) They're pretty good." From that point forward, it was Russell's Sprouts.
If it's just me, I'm adding cracked red pepper to the mix. Like I do to every vegetable, it seems. But for the mainstream, leave out the cracked red, but don't go too lightly on the cracked black.
citrus roasted brussels sprouts with pancetta and toasted cashews
4 lbs brussels sprouts
1 lb pancetta
12 oz raw cashews, chopped
olive oil (about 2 tablespoons per baking sheet of sprouts)
2-4 cloves minced garlic (optional)
coarse sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
brussels sprouts- prepare by peeling away the tough first layer of outer leaves and trimming away any core to the base of the sprout. Cut on pound in half, the second pound in quarters.
pancetta—when purchasing pancetta, have the delicatessen slice it on "#3". This will still be fairly thin, but not paper-thin (which you will find kind of melts away). Reserve 3 rounds for toasting cashews. Then slice remaining rounds into thin strips, about a quarter inch thick, and then across in uniform lengths, about an inch long. These are now lardons. (see note below recipe for substituting american bacon)
oranges—zest all three oranges. (if you don't have a zester, you can use the finest grater holes of a box or flat grater). Then juice two of the oranges. (Or juice three, and enjoy drinking the juice of one, yourself! Yum.)
Preheat oven to 375°.
Spread brussels sprouts on two baking sheets, lined with a silicone baking pad or sprayed with silicone baking spray. Separate sprouts cut in half and sprouts cut in quarters, to assure they cook evenly. Drizzle with olive oil, then toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Scatter pancetta lardons evenly over the two pans.
Roast sprouts for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small skillet render fat from pancetta (there will be only enough to coat the bottom of the pan) by slowly frying until crisp. Remove pancetta (reserving for garnishing top of finished dish) and transfer cashews to the pan, tossing frequently, and toasting them until lightly browned. Nuts have oils in them that facilitate their fast toasting; it should take only about 5 minutes. See photo. Set aside.
After sprouts have roasted the first 15 minutes, remove from oven and toss with orange zest and juice, and minced garlic, if using. Return to oven to roast until fork tender, about another 15-20 minutes.
Remove from oven, toss both pans together, top with cashews and reserved pancetta.
Substituting Bacon—Pancetta is the European cousin of american bacon. Pancetta is unsmoked, and yields less fat. I love the Pancetta in this recipe for that reason: it doesn't overpower the flavors. However, using american bacon, although changing the flavor , will make a pretty yummy side dish if you prefer the smokier flavor, or can't find pancetta easily. (I found it at my local small town grocery, so it should be pretty easy to get, even prepackaged in the deli meats but in some areas, it's just catching on). I would use less than a pound, say ¾ of a pound. Slice crosswise, in ¼ to ½ " lardons. Preroast for about 10-15 minutes, or until just beginning to brown and render fat. Then remove from oven, add brussels sprouts and toss well. You will probably not need the addition of olive oil, just monitor to see that the sprouts are well moistened, and add olive oil as/if necessary. For roasting cashews, ½ slice of bacon should do. Continue as instructed, above.
Vegan adjustments: Easy! No pancetta. Use neutral flavored oil to roast cashews (no more than it takes to lightly coat the bottom of the skillet). Olive oil is not suggested (because of it's low smoking point). Sunflower or grapeseed oils are ideal. If you miss the 'meatiness' of the dish, a good substitute would be to sprinkle a parmesan substitute over that last 5 minutes of roasting. (However most vegans don't miss 'meatiness' at all!) One of the sausage-type crumble meat substitutes tossed with this would turn it into a satisfying main dish, too.