I am taking the Brussels Sprouts With Chestnuts And Pancetta to a friend's on Christmas day. Can I cook it in advance, or at least part of it?
Nigella's Brussels Sprouts With Chestnuts And Pancetta (from FEAST) are a seasonal side dish and perfect for Christmas day. It is possible to part cook the dish in advance but the Brussels sprouts can lose some of their verdant colour on reheating, so if possible it is best to boil the sprouts just before serving.
The bacon can be cooked in advance, mixed with the crumbled chestnuts and refrigerated in an airtight container until needed. Then add them to the saucepan with the butter and warm through before adding the marsala and cooked sprouts. If you need to cook the Brussels sprouts in advance you need to blanch them by boiling them until only just tender, then draining them and immediatley submerging them in a very large bowl (or sink) of ice water and leaving until cool. Drain the cooled sprouts, then put into a large bowl or container, cover and refrigerate until needed. You can reheat the sprouts either in a large saucepan of boiling water for a minute or so, in a microwave or in a large wok or frying pan with a little butter and a splash of water, but make sure that they are properly heated through. Then melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the bacon and chestnuts to reheat and continue with the recipe. It may help to halve the sprouts before cooking as the reheating time will be shorter, but remember that they will not take as long to blanch either. For other ideas you may like to look at Nigella's suggestions for Christmas Side Dishes.