To all of you diligent, menu-planning people out there. Who have had your Thanksgiving menu planned for months. (Unlike some of us who finalized it…err…who will finalize it next Wednesday at approximately 8PM.)
I am about to throw a wrench in your best-laid plans.
You see, somewhere in the midst of all of my blog hopping and magazine perusing. And after my mother informed me for the tenth time that, really all they wanted was mashed potatoes and stuffing from a box so I shouldn’t worry myself about it any more.
I got it into my head that I wanted to make Brussels sprouts on the big day.
Maybe it was the joie de vivre with which Amy espoused her love of the Brussels sprout side dish that she is making for Thursday that pushed me over the edge.
Or maybe it’s just my truly vengeful nature. Who knows.
Either way, on Friday I found myself at the Union Square Farmer’s Market (the first of two trips this weekend, might I add). Standing in front of a huge pile of sprouts. When an image of that horrible red box filled with preservatives and high fructose corn syrup and everything you do not want to put into your body popped into my head (Why Stovetop! Why!).
And so I said, “To hell with it all”. There was going to be at least one dish on that table that I could feel good about eating. So help me.
Truly though, the joke’s on me because the sweet nutty flavor of the chestnuts paired with the salty pancetta and utterly addictive marsala wine will have even Brussels sprout haters running to the table. I did a test run yesterday and Sophie, who doesn’t even like Brussels sprouts, couldn’t keep her fingers out of the bowl.
Revenge literally has never tasted so sweet.
Before I get to the recipe, I just wanted to say that I made the bacon-wrapped walleye sole and grilled radicchio with orange and balsamic that were this week’s recipes for Symon Sundays (pictured above). However, I was thoroughly unenthused and so I decided not to “waste” a post on them. If you want the recipes, you can find them over at Living in The Kitchen With Puppies! Natashya loved them so I have a feeling that I did something wrong somewhere. Oh well. Can’t love em all.
Also, I was definitely wary of putting chestnuts in this recipe after my parents tried to roast them last year. And, well. I really have no idea what they did because sweet and nutty was not the flavor profile I took away from that whole experience. I was especially concerned when I saw how expensive pre-roasted chestnuts were. However, when I spotted a box full of raw (local!) chestnuts at Whole Foods for half the price and double the amount, I decided to just go for it. Let me tell you, these are so easy to roast and SO delicious! Definitely worth the FIFTEEN minutes they take to cook. After this, you’ll never buy those vacuum-packed chestnuts ever again.
Homemade Roasted Chestnuts
Preheat oven to 425. Using a sharp paring knife, cut an X on the flatter surface of each of the chestnuts making sure to cut through the shell and the skin. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. When chestnuts are cool enough to touch (but no cooler than that!) peel off the shell and skin. The colder they are, the harder this will be to do so don’t let them sit around forever!
2 1/4 lb brussels sprouts
1 tbsp olive oil
4 oz pancetta cut into small strips or diced depending on the cut you use (Nigella uses 9 oz)
2 tbsp butter
8-9 oz roasted chestnuts, halved
1/2 cup marsala wine (Nigella uses 1/4 cup but I found this to be too little)
1 large handful parsley, chopped
freshly ground black pepper
1. Slice the bottoms off each of the Brussels sprouts. Place the Brussels sprouts into a large saucepan of salted boiling water. Cook the Brussels sprouts for 5 minutes or until they are tender but still have some of a bite. Remove the pan from the heat and drain the excess water. **NOTE – I think that when I make these for Thanksgiving, I’m going to shave the sprouts and saute them in the pancetta fat, this way the flavor will really infuse into them.
2. Heat the oil in a large, clean saucepan. Add the pancetta and cook until crisp and not dried out. Add the butter and chestnuts to the pancetta saucepan. With a wooden spoon or spatula, push down on the chestnuts to break them up into pieces. Once the chestnuts have been warmed through, turn up the heat and add the marsala. Cook until the mixture has reduced and thickened slightly.
3. Add the sprouts and half the parsley to the saucepan. (Unless you decided to shave the sprouts. Then add them right after the pancetta is cooked.) Mix well. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Put the sprouts on a serving plate and sprinkle the remaining parsley over the top.
This is my submission to Reeni’s Thanksgiving Side Dish Showdown!