Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Brussels Sprouts - 2 Ways

We never ate brussels sprouts growing up, I don't know why my mom didn't make them...but I never questioned her since I heard my friends talk about how awful these little green basketballs were. I grew up thinking I hated them and never even tried them.

With the holidays approaching I started to see more and more recipes for brussels sprouts and they sounded really good. I mean, sauteed in butter and bacon, how bad could that be?? I decided to make this as a side for my mom's Thanksgiving but when I shared with her my plan she was horrified to learn I was using my family and the THANKSGIVING MEAL as my first test run on this side dish. I'm new to the kitchen, so basically everything I make is a first run recipe, I never know if it's going to turn out well or not...and how will I ever grow my repertoire unless I try new things? But her point was valid, this was a special occasion and she wanted me to make a tried and true recipe for our meal.

Fair enough. The week before I went home for Thanksgiving I purchased my first pound of brussels sprouts and I narrowed my recipe options down to two reliable sources: Ina Garten and Bobby Flay. Both recipes sounded great, but the cooking method differed. Ina cooks her brussels completely on the stove top. Bobby starts his brussels on the stove but finishes them in a hot oven which was appealing since the brussels will probably caramelized better.

In this side by side challenge, I split the pound of brussels sprouts in half and made both recipes in one night. I present to you a face off! Ina Garten's Brussels Sprouts Lardons VS Bobby Flay's Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

Ingredients for Ina's Brussels Sprouts Lardons:
2 tablespoons good olive oil
6 ounces Italian pancetta or bacon, 1/4-inch dice (I used bacon)
1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts (2 containers), trimmed and cut in 1/2 (I used 1/2 pound)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup golden raisins
1 3/4 cups Homemade Chicken Stock, recipe follows, or canned broth

Ingredients for Bobby's Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound sliced pancetta, diced (I used bacon)
4 shallots, thinly sliced
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved (I used 1/2 pound)
8 baby Yukon gold potatoes, quartered (I omitted)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 lemon, juiced
Both recipes call for rendering pancetta fat but I'm using the more cost effective and readily available BACON. Cook bacon pieces over medium high heat until the bacon crisps and the fat is rendered, then move the bacon pieces to a paper towel to reserve for adding back later.

Ina: Heat the olive oil in a large (12-inch) saute pan and add the pancetta. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the fat is rendered and the pancetta is golden brown and crisp, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the pancetta to a plate lined with a paper towel.

Bobby: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Heat oil over medium heat in a roasting pan or large skillet. Add the pancetta and cook until golden brown and crisp. Remove the pancetta to a plate lined with paper towels.

Bobby: Dice a shallot and add to the bacon grease and cook until soft.

Ina: Add the Brussels sprouts, salt, and pepper to the fat in the pan and saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned. But I forgot to cut them in half, so after I took this picture I pulled each out and sliced in half.

Bobby: I also add a little bit of minced garlic to the shallots.

Ina: Sprouts are cut in half now.

Ina: Add the raisins and chicken stock.

Ina: If the skillet becomes too dry, add a little chicken stock or water.

Ina: Lower the heat and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the sprouts are tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes.

Bobby: Add the Brussels sprouts and potatoes (I omitted the potatoes in this recipe but think they would be a really lovely addition) and toss to combine.
Bobby: Season with salt and pepper and roast in the 425 oven until the vegetables are cooked through and golden brown.

Ina: Return the pancetta (bacon) to the pan, heat through, season to taste, and serve.

Ina: These were so good! I didn't need to do any seasoning, the chicken stock was absorbed by the little sprouts and plumped the raisins. This was a perfect combo of savory and sweet.

Bobby: Here is what the vegetables look like when I pull them from the oven. They are lovely and brown with some crispy pieces. Love the color!
Bobby: Stir in butter and lemon juice.
Bobby: Return the pancetta (bacon) to the pan, heat through, season to taste, and serve.
Bobby: I liked the crunch that happens when you roast the brussels sprouts, but it was missing the sweet addition that Ina had with the raisins. And I didn't care for the lemon juice added to the end. These were really good, and if I hadn't had anything to compare these too, I would have ate them and said they were yummy.

Ina: Oh my Ina, the Barefoot Contessa does it again! These were spectacular and I ate the entire half pound at the end of the night. Delish!!! Check out Ina's Brussels Sprouts Lardon recipe here. I have made this recipe at least four more times since Thanksgiving (and yes Turkey Day was only last week.)

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