I recently asked the question, “should I use bacon fat?” It was largely rhetorical.
My husband Jason, our friend Sam and I were in the test kitchen working on a recipe for a Brussels sprout slaw. Inspiration had come in the form of Sapore Oil and Vinegar‘s new Harvest Apple vinegar. Expecting apple pie in a bottle, my nose was greeted with something closer to Worcestershire sauce. Though not as savory, the vinegar sang a siren song of Brussels sprouts, sharp, grainy mustard and bacon. It was a song we had heard before.
Around this time last year we answered a similar call. Blanched, shaved sprouts were dressed in a bacon fat, mustard, sherry vinaigrette. This time the results were different. Maybe it was the lower acidity of the Harvest Apple vinegar, or maybe it was the rich, sweet and sour sweet potatoes we had just eaten, but tasted side-by-side, we preferred a light, grassy olive oil over rich, salty bacon fat.
Are we retiring last fall’s bacon fat version? No, with a crisp loaf of bread or a savory celery root soup, the bacon fat version is still our choice. However, sitting amidst a table loaded with stuffing, potatoes, turkey and gravy, the light, bright, more acidic version is a welcome island amidst the starch.
Brussels Sprout Apple-Mustard Slaw
- 4 cups Brussels sprouts, bottoms trimmed and halved
- 1/2 cup diced Pancetta
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1/3 cup Autumn Apple Vinegar*
- 2 tbs sharp, grainy mustard
- 1/2 cup Frantoio Olive Oil*
*It’s the holidays – treat yourself, and order a couple bottles online at Sapore Oil and Vinegar. If you need a substitute for the Autumn Apple Vinegar, combine 4 tbs Sherry vinegar with 2 tbs cider or apple juice. Frantoio is a light, grassy olive oil. you can sub any good quality oil.
- Blanch Brussels sprouts in salted, boiling water for 1 minute. Remove to ice bath. When cool, drain and pat dry.
- Sauté pancetta in 1 tbs olive oil over medium heat until crispy. Remove to drain on paper towels. Reserve fat to fry just about anything.
- Whisk together shallot, Autumn Apple Vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper to taste.
- Thinly slice Brussels sprouts and place in a bowl with some extra room.
- Whisk Frantoio oil into vinegar mixture. Season to taste.
- Dress brussels sprouts with 1/2 dressing and Pancetta. Let rest 5-10 minutes and season to taste with additional dressing if needed.