What can one say about brussels sprouts that hasn’t been said a million times over? Much maligned, they have been dealt a dodgy hand in life, even by vegetable standards. This is simply unfair. Butchered decade after decade by unknowing hands, it seems that many just don’t know how to cook brussels sprouts. But the preparation of these mini-brassicas is simpler than most seem to think, as this recipe for Hazelnut and Pancetta Brussels Sprouts proves.
As with any brassica, overcooking your sprouts will only cause them to lose sweetness and develop their trademark taste, hated by all. Personally, I’ve never been one for boiling sprouts; frying tends to lead to better results. Of course, deciding on how to prepare brussels sprouts depends on how you’d like to eat them, but in most cases water is not necessary. A knob of butter and a little added flavour – hazelnut and pancetta, perhaps – and you’ll have everyone at the table praising your culinary abilities.
Pancetta may seem like an expensive ingredient to use, but even we frugal fellows need a modicum of luxury in our lives. Besides, a little pancetta goes a long way and while 25g may seem like nothing at all, the amount flavour it bestows on this dish is surprising. Not bad for a lump of meat and fat worth approximately 50p.
More complex than plain sprouts, this recipe for hazelnut and pancetta brussels sprouts is nevertheless simple and quick enough to be perfect for both Sunday roasts and the all important Christmas dinner. The hazelnuts in particular give this dish a festive feel worth having at your table and you’ll never regret the small amount of extra work involved.
Hazelnut and Pancetta Brussels Sprouts
- 250g brussels sprouts, quartered
- 50g hazelnuts
- 25g pancetta, diced
- 25g butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- A pinch of salt and pepper
- Start by dry frying your hazelnuts over a gentle heat until cooked through. This should only take a few minutes.
- Heat the butter and olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the diced pancetta and cook until crispy.
- Add the quartered sprouts and cook on a high heat for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, roughly break the hazelnuts, leaving some whole.
- Add the nuts to the sprouts and cook for a further 3 minutes. Season to taste – a pinch of each should do – and serve immediately.
Cost: Despite containing a couple of luxuries – pancetta and hazelnuts – this dish, perfect as a side or at lunch, can be made for as little as £1.50.
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