Al Dente On The Side: Roasted Brussels sprouts with pancetta

My aunt, the crazy one whom I’ve mentioned previously, typically makes vegetables to bring for our family’s annual Thanksgiving gathering. This year, she committed to two things for Thanksgiving:

  1. Making vegetables for dinner, and
  2. Arthroscopic surgery to repair her meniscus on the Monday before the holiday.

She is fine. Surgery went according to plan and she has bounced back well for a women of 212 73 years old. That said, she tapped out on the vegetable preparation. Actually, I threw the towel in for her. Knowing that she wasn’t going to be functional, I picked up the kitchen responsibilities for this one.

If I’m doing two of any particular genre, I’m going to do one that meant for a greater audience and another that is a little further off the reservation. Something that I’ll like and could reel in a few others.

We didn’t eat a lot of Brussels sprouts as kids, which is fine with me. I think that the nationwide childhood aversion to these little guys seems to be the method of preparation. Steamed Brussels sprouts have all the appeal of…steamed Brussels sprouts. Roasted with olive oil and some garlic, they are a winner. For Thanksgiving, I wanted to up the ante. And the best way to do that is to use bacon. Or pancetta.

Rendering the pancetta and browning it through provides enough oil to coat the sprouts for roasting with some salt and garlic.

Roasted Brussells sprouts with pancetta
By Jared Paventi

  • 2 lbs. Brussels sprouts, cleaned, trimmed and halved
  • 4 1/4-inch thick slices of pancetta (about 1/3 lb.)
  • Five garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Cook the pancetta in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. When the fat begins to melt, reduce the heat to medium. Stir frequently to brown evenly and ensure that the exposed fat is cooked away, about 10-15 minutes. Add garlic to the pan and toss. Remove from heat.

Add sprouts to a large mixing bowl and season with a salt and pepper. Top with the contents of the saucepan and use a large spoon to gently turn the sprouts.

Roast for 45 to 60 minutes and serve hot.

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