I know that we still have a while to go until it is Thanksgiving, but I start thinking about it months in advance! I try out different recipes and then decide what I am serving. Since Brussels Sprouts are a traditional dish, I get tired of having it the same way. The last few years, we have been eating a Brussels Sprouts Salad (a previous post) that is delicious, but I'm much more into cooked food right now so I wanted to find year another way to serve these delicious vegetables. Strangely, so many people don't think they like them, but that usually comes from having suffered from the boiled versions of their youth that was odiferous to say the least. These days, there are so many wonderful ways to make them that are so far removed from the boiled kind. They can be so tasty especially when they are roasted or pan fried.
Tonight, I decided to use two of my other favorite ingredients, Pancetta and Shallots. I once had a chef tell me that the secret to good restaurant cooking is in the use of Shallots. Now, I don't know if that's true, but I do know they enhance the flavor of so many foods, particularly Thai dishes. I buy them almost every time I go to the grocery store. They do break down or soften easily to enhance sauces and to me, they are a lovely mild version of both the onion and garlic flavor that I love. I also buy precut Pancetta pieces from Trader Joe's.
To make this dish, I first roasted the Brussels Sprouts with a bit of Oil and Salt. Meanwhile, I cooked the Pancetta and Shallots and then when the Brussels Sprouts are nice and browned, I stir in the Shallots and Pancetta and top it with a sprinkling of Parmesan Cheese and then I pop it in the broiler until the cheese melts. My son, who is a connoisseur of all things involving Brussels Sprouts declared it the best version yet. So, this dish is definitely going to be on this year's Thanksgiving menu!
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta, Shallots and Parmesan
1 pound Brussels Sprouts, stem sliced off, outside leaves pulled off, cut into quarters
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil plus an additional 1/2 Tablespoon
4 ounces Pancetta, cut in small pieces (or use bacon)
1 large Shallot, chopped
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place Brussels Sprouts on a large baking pan and sprinkle with the 2 Tablespoons of the Oil and salt, tossing to coat thoroughly. Place in the oven and cook, turning every 5 minutes for 15 - 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the Pancetta and Shallots in a small frying pan in 1/2 Tablespoon of Oil until the Shallot is soft and the Pancetta is just starting to brown. Remove from heat and reserve.
Heat the oven to Broil. When you take out the Brussel Sprouts, add the Pancetta and Shallots and toss to mix thoroughly. Push all the Brussel Sprouts close together and sprinkle on the Parmesan Cheese. Place the pan back in the oven and cook until the Parmesan cheese is melted and just beginning to brown - 3 to 5 minutes.
Five Element Analysis
Brussel Sprouts, even though they belong to the Cabbage Family also grow on tall branches so they are a cross between the Wood Element and the Earth Element. The Pancetta adds in the Water Element and the Parmesan Cheese and the Shallot contribute the Metal Element. Only the Fire Element is missing so be sure to include that element in the rest of the meal.