Tag Archives: pancetta

Richer for it.

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Photography by Sam Armocido

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

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups Brussels sprouts, bottoms trimmed and halved

For dressing:

  • 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.

Directions:

  • 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.
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Top honors.

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With all due respect to the many great chefs in DC, you can keep your Rammy’s and your James Beard Awards (but keep me in mind for the future). This past weekend, I earned top honors from a mom. She had stopped by my Eastern Market cooking demos with her young son for weeks, but this day was special. I was cooking Brussels Sprouts.

Blanching them, actually. Then slicing them thinly and tossing them in a pancetta, mustard and sherry vinaigrette.

Even among the most adventurous of the under-five-year-old dining set, these small, cabbage-y tasting treasures are rarely tolerated, mush less beloved. Saturday morning, however, this young man reached for seconds. If that wasn’t enough, his mom said, “he eats every vegetable you cook. You can’t seem to go wrong. And you can share that.”

So I am. I’m glowing with pride. And to prove that I have a heart, I’ll be serving him pumpkin pancakes next Saturday. He’s earned it.

Brussels Sprout Slaw

Ingredients:
• 1 pound Brussels sprouts
• 1/8 pound pancetta, diced
• 1/4 cup Sherry vinegar
• 1 tbs whole grain mustard

*1 pound of Brussels Sprouts is about 4 cups, I usually go for about a handfull per serving.

Directions:
• Blanch Brussels sprouts in salted boiling water until bright green but still crisp. Shock in ice water and dry.
• Thinly slice sprouts lengthwise (from tip to base)
• Sauté pancetta over medium low heat to render fat, remove pancetta to paper towels to drain.
• Deglaze pan with vinegar.
• Add mustard and season to taste with pepper and salt as needed.
• Toss brussels sprouts with dressing.
• Serve with reserved pancetta.

Everything is better with pancetta. Even chocolate. It’s super-salty, fatty, Italian, un-smoked bacon. Life is better when you always keep some in your fridge.

Everything’s better with bacon!

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Butternut squash soup is perfect on a grey, cool fall day like today. Warm, sweet, rich and thick. But how can you make it quickly, and produce a rich roasted taste without baking the squash in the oven for 40 minutes? Peeling and chopping your squash into a 1/2 dice saves a lot of cooking time. Letting the squash caramelize on the bottom of the pot for a few minutes produces some of the flavor you get from the oven.

But why stop there? Add pancetta – Italian, salt-cured bacon, maple syrup, Moscatel vinegar and a Honeycrisp apple garnish, and you’ve got a multi layered flavor with a sweet-tangy crunch at the end.

Butternut Squash Pancetta Soup

Ingredients:
  • 1/4 pancetta, diced
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled+cubed
  • 5 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5-6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 3 tbs maple syrum
  • 1 tbs Moscatel or Sherry vinegar
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1/2 finely diced Honeycrisp apple
  • 2 tbs chopped parsley
Directions:
  • In a wide, heavy, 6 qt stock pot, heat 1 tbs olive oil over medium-low heat. Sauté pancetta until crispy and brown. Remove pancetta with a slotted spoon leaving behind the salty, fatty goodness.
  • Add onions and cook until softened.
  • Add garlic. Cook through one minute until fragrant
  • Add squash. Cook until onions and squash caramelize on bottom of pan. You can let it form a crust, just be careful not to burn.
  • Add 1 cup stock, raise heat to med, and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the remaining stock, bay leaves and thyme. Simmer over medium-high heat until squash is soft. About 20 minutes.
  • Remove bay and thyme and process soup. You can use an immersion blender, but a food mill, if you have one, produces a great texture.
  • Finely mince the reserved, cooked pancetta. Stir into the soup and cook 5 minutes more to let the flavors blend.
  • Add 2 tbs maple syrup and a splash of vinegar.
  • Season to taste with salt, pepper, butter and additional syrup and vinegar as needed.
  • Garnish with apple and parsley.
Vegetable stock: Place 12 cups water in a 6 qt stock pot. Roughly chop 1 large onion, 1 large carrot and 2 celery stalks. Add to pot along with 2 bay leaves, 8-10 celery stems, 2 sprigs of thyme, and 8-10 black pepper corns. If you have leek greens or parsnips sitting around add those as well. (No peppers or cabbage. Yuck!) Simmer partially covered for 30-45 minutes and strain. Season a quarter cup with a little salt and pepper. If the stock is bland, reduce the stock by boiling down to 8 cups. (Just guess. No one actually measures boiling stock to get an exact measurement.)