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Brussels Sprouts With Chestnuts, Pancetta and Parsley

by . Featured in FEAST
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Introduction

The sprout recipe below is really only a slight detour from the traditional route. By all means, stick to the orthodox if you prefer by adding only buttery chestnuts to the Brussels sprouts, but what follows is now my own traditional way of cooking them. There is a lot of parsley, I know, but think of it as another vegetable ingredient rather than a garnish.

Obviously, if you can’t get your hands on pancetta, it’s fine to use bacon. Just scissor it up, and fry it in a little more oil than you need for the pancetta, before proceeding.

The sprout recipe below is really only a slight detour from the traditional route. By all means, stick to the orthodox if you prefer by adding only buttery chestnuts to the Brussels sprouts, but what follows is now my own traditional way of cooking them. There is a lot of parsley, I know, but think of it as another vegetable ingredient rather than a garnish.

Obviously, if you can’t get your hands on pancetta, it’s fine to use bacon. Just scissor it up, and fry it in a little more oil than you need for the pancetta, before proceeding.

Brussels Sprouts With Chestnuts, Pancetta and Parsley
Photo by James Merrell

Ingredients

Serves: 8-10

Metric Cups
  • 1 kilogram brussels sprouts
  • 250 grams pancetta (rind removed, cut into 1 cm cubes)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 30 grams butter
  • 250 grams vacuum-packed chestnuts
  • 60 millilitres marsala
  • 1 large bunch of fresh parsley (chopped)
  • 2¼ pounds brussels sprouts
  • 8 ounces pancetta (rind removed, cut into 1 cm cubes)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 9 ounces vacuum-packed chestnuts
  • ¼ cup marsala
  • 1 large bunch of fresh parsley (chopped)

Method

  1. Trim the bottoms off each of the sprouts, cutting a cross into each as you go, or at least a slash. This may not be necessary, but I can’t not do it. Then tip them into a large pan of salted boiling water and cook until tender but still retaining a bit of bite, about 5 minutes or so depending on size. Just spoon one out of the water and test (without burning your tongue and thus ruining the whole lunch for yourself) to be sure.
  2. Meanwhile, in a pan large enough to take everything later (or just drain the sprouts and use their pan, once you’ve drained them), cook the pancetta cubes in the oil, with the rind for more salty fat rendering, until they’re bronzed and crisp, but not cooked to the point of having dried out.
  3. Add the butter and the chestnuts and, with a wooden spoon or spatula, press on the chestnuts to break them up a little. When they’re warmed through, turn the heat up and throw in the Marsala, letting it bubble away, fusing with the pancetta fat and chestnutty butter to form a glorious savoury syrup. Add the drained sprouts and turn well, sprinkling in half the parsley as you do so. Give a good grinding of pepper; you shouldn’t need salt, given the pancetta, but obviously taste to see. Decant to a warmed serving plate and sprinkle over the remaining chopped parsley.
  1. Trim the bottoms off each of the sprouts, cutting a cross into each as you go, or at least a slash. This may not be necessary, but I can’t not do it. Then tip them into a large pan of salted boiling water and cook until tender but still retaining a bit of bite, about 5 minutes or so depending on size. Just spoon one out of the water and test (without burning your tongue and thus ruining the whole lunch for yourself) to be sure.
  2. Meanwhile, in a pan large enough to take everything later (or just drain the sprouts and use their pan, once you’ve drained them), cook the pancetta cubes in the oil, with the rind for more salty fat rendering, until they’re bronzed and crisp, but not cooked to the point of having dried out.
  3. Add the butter and the chestnuts and, with a wooden spoon or spatula, press on the chestnuts to break them up a little. When they’re warmed through, turn the heat up and throw in the Marsala, letting it bubble away, fusing with the pancetta fat and chestnutty butter to form a glorious savoury syrup. Add the drained sprouts and turn well, sprinkling in half the parsley as you do so. Give a good grinding of pepper; you shouldn’t need salt, given the pancetta, but obviously taste to see. Decant to a warmed serving plate and sprinkle over the remaining chopped parsley.

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