Tag Archives: slaw

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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Never turn down good advice.

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Celery root is a disturbingly ugly vegetable with tan skin and a gnarly, knobby top. Once the top is cut away and the skin peeled, it reveals creamy, slightly starchy flesh, with the sharp, but delicate flavor of celery. It is generally served roasted, braised or boiled – mostly in purées and soups, like this one that I served at Eastern Market last fall.

Last week, Dan from Agora Farms suggested trying it raw in a coleslaw with poppyseed dressing. I never turn down the advice of someone who knows his produce well enough to check the pH of a melon to see if it’s at the perfect stage of ripeness, so I headed into the kitchen.

The shredded celery root was delicate and easily overpowered by other flavors. Researching poppyseed dressings, I discovered two types: oil-based and mayonnaise or yogurt-based. The lighter-flavored, oil-based option was definitely the right choice. They also contain a lot of sugar, which again sounded overpowering. The milder sweetness and floral notes of honey seemed a better choice, and played perfectly with the herbal flavor of the celery root.

The finished product was fantastic. Definitely a keeper. And remember, Dan gives good advice. In fact, his whole team does. Ask for some this weekend.

Celery Root Slaw

The texture of the raw celery root is a bit grainy when you first prepare it. Give this dish a little time to come together in the fridge – at least a half hour. It is even better made a day ahead.

Ingredients:

For dressing:

  • 3 tbs grated onion
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp Hungarian paprika
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds
  • 1-2 tbs honey
  • 1/4 cup Sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil*

For salad:

  • 2 cups grated celery root
  • 1 tbs chopped fennel fronds or tarragon
  • 1 tbs chopped parsley

Directions:

  • Begin dressing: Whisk together onion, mustard, paprika, poppy seeds, honey, vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside.
  • Toss together celery root, parsley, and fennel fronds or tarragon in a medium bowl.
  • Finish dressing:  whisk in oil in a thin, steady stream. It will form a creamy emulsion. Season to taste with salt, and pepper. Adjust vinegar and honey to achieve desired sweetness/acidity.
  • Toss salad with a couple tablespoons of dressing. Add more to taste. The celery root is distinct, but mild and you don’t want to cover up the flavor. Let rest for thirty minutes before serving.

* “Why not olive oil?” you ask, with the derisive scorn we all reserve for evil oils that come in large, plastic bottles. Olive oil is a powerful flavor. Vegetable oil is fairly neutral. Grape seed oil is neutral as well, and would be a great alternative.

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.