Sunday, November 28, 2010

Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta and Chestnuts

This past Thanksgiving dinner I finally convinced my mom to let me cook something a little different than our normal menu.  I had made roasted Brussel Sprouts a few weeks earlier and loved how they developed a nutty flavor.  Given that it is Thanksgiving, I upped the ante and added some pancetta and cooked chestnuts.  They were by far, my favorite side dish from our Thanksgiving dinner.

Brussel Sprouts:

2-3 ounces of cubed pancetta (TJ's has it)
12-15 brussel sprouts, halved and cleaned
2 tbsp olive oil - I used duck fat because it was tasty, but bacon fat works too
Salt and Pepper
1/4 tsp. of chili powder
1/2 cup of pealed chopped cooked chestnuts

Preheat oven to 350F.  In a large skillet brown the pancetta on medium heat.  Once crispy, take out with a slotted spoon and drain onto paper towels.  Add a bit more oil/fat to the pan on medium high heat.  Add the sprouts, halved side down, season with salt, pepper and chili powder and let cook for 5-7 minutes, until they get a nice color of golden brown.  Stir around a bit, add the chestnuts and a splash of water or chicken stock.  Put the pan in the oven and cook the brussel sprouts till soft but still have a bite to them.  Depending on the size 8-12 minutes.  Once done, sprinkle with the crispy pancetta and serve.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Broccolini with Cheese Sauce

This side dish is a great addition to any meal.  You steam the broccoli or the broccolini in some salted water and then top it with a creamy cheddar cheese sauce.  If you choose to veto the sauce, squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the broccoli right before you eat it, because if you squeeze the lemon juice on it right after steaming, it will turn a weird brownish green color that, well, just isn't appetizing.

Broccolini with Cheddar Cheese Sauce:

1 bunch of broccolini or broccoli
3 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp Wondra flour
1- 1 1/2 cups warmed skim milk (warm it in the microwave in a liquid measuring cup)
1/4 tsp freshly graded nutmeg
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1 cup freshly graded sharp white cheddar cheese
Salt and Pepper

You need 2 pans, one shallow that you can fill with water and steam the boccoli/broccolini and another saucepan that you can make the sauce with.

Boil the water with a large pinch of salt.  When boiling, add the broccolini and cover to steam. 

While the vegetable is steaming, heat the butter in the sauce pan, once melted add the flour.  Cook for at least a minute to cook off the raw flour flavor.  Then add the warmed milk, and stir to combine.  Add the nutmeg, mustard, salt and pepper, then slowly start adding the cheese a hand full at a time, till it's melted completely.

When the broccolini is done, take off the heat and drain.  Make sure the cheese sauce is combined and smooth.  Taste and adjust for seasoning.  Make sure the sauce has cooked for at least 5 minutes on medium low to thicken a bit, drizzle over the cooked broccolini and enjoy!