November 8th, 2010
I am not sure I fully appreciated my cousins growing up. They would visit once or twice a year and I remember shared activities such as carving pumpkins together, sliding down very cold mountain waterfalls, and throwing toy cars at one another.
They did, however, hold some degree of cool factor as my aunt married a Brit, so they lived (still do) in England, thereby possessing classic British accents. This provided ongoing entertainment for my brother and myself, as we tried to imitate their speech and use their different words and phrases – a “lorry” is a truck? “Bloody” is an explicative? “Brilliant!”
What I don’t remember is cooking together or talking about food.
I don’t know how this escaped us, because my aunt and cousins are apparently the best of the best in this department. Top rate Indian fare and on the fly seasoners – real artists my mother tells me. They have yet to cook for me, but when I posted my at the moment favorite brussels sprouts recipe last winter and my cousin chimed in with a suggestion of shredding the sprouts and sauteing them with pancetta, butter, and nutmeg, I was sold. I knew that as soon as sprout season was back in swing, I had to try it.
Here’s what he said – I love his phrasing and I can just hear it in his lilting British accent:
“Another great way to cook them…is to shred them finely (like the mini cabbages that they are) and saute them in plenty of butter with crispy streaky bacon or (even better) some pancetta. Add a couple of twists of nutmeg right at the end along with your lemon juice and you’ve got a vegetable dish that is not exactly a healthy green veg, but delicious and also a world away from the insipid, soggy little balls of green mush that everyone passes off for sprouts over here in England!”
Ah! What else is there to say? Other than the fact that this kitchen averse pregnant mamma has made these twice in one week and cannot stop thinking about them. They really are that good (so good, I threw caution to the wind and grabbed my camera on the fly and snapped this picture so I would have something, anything, to show you – so spontaneous – what is happening to me?)!
Shredded brussels sprouts with pancetta and nutmeg
2 1/2 lbs. fresh small, young brussels sprouts
4-6 ounces pancetta, sliced thin or diced small
2 Tablespoons butter (more as needed)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated if you have it)
sea salt and freshly grated black pepper to taste
couple squeezes of fresh lemon juice (from 1/2 lemon)
Trim off the ends of the brussels sprouts and shred or dice into thin strips. Rinse and dry the shredded sprouts. Melt butter in a large pan. Add the pancetta and saute until beginning to brown. Add the sprouts and saute until they begin to soften, 5-10 minutes. Add up to 1 more tablespoon of butter for moisture and taste if needed/desired. Sprinkle nutmeg evenly over sprouts and season with salt and pepper. Turn heat up on the pan and deglaze with a couple of squeezes of lemon juice. The predominant flavorings should be the salty pancetta and the warm nutmeg, with only a hint of sour in the background from the lemon, so start with just a little lemon (1 tbs), and add more to taste. This will make 4-6 side servings.