August 29, 2012

... Brussels Sprout Salad

Why is it that when you're a kid you can't imagine eating certain foods, but once you grow up, you just can't get enough of those same things?  I don't know many kids who like Brussels sprouts.  But give them this version, with pancetta ("bacon" where kids are concerned), cheese, and apple, and I bet you won't hear too many arguments.

Just don't put them in charge of shredding the sprouts.  The mandonlin is sharp and kids of all ages (ahem) can easily hurt themselves.

This salad was a great addition to our Fourth of July meal.  My family loves trying new recipes and sometimes we find them in the most random of places.  Like this one from Canadian House & Home magazine.  Lucky for us, Mom loves house magazines... and new recipes.

Brussels Sprout Salad
serves 4

10 slices of pancetta
4 ounces Piave cheese (or Parmigiano-Reggiano)
1 medium-sized Matsu apple (or Gala, Fuji, or whatever you like)
3 dozen Brussels sprouts
1/2 cup caramelized pancetta vinaigrette (see below)

Caramelized Pancetta Vinaigrette
1 shallot, peeled
1 teaspoon grainy mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup reserved pancetta fat
1 cup cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped chives

Bake pancetta on parchment-lined baking sheet at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.  Reserve 1/2 cup fat for dressing.  Place all dressing ingredients except oil and chives in a blender and blend on high until smooth, slowly adding oil until emulsified.  Add chives and mix by hand.  (Store extra dressing in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.)

Shave cheese into long, thin curls using a vegetable peeler.  Cut apple into matchsticks using a mandoline or sharp knife.  Shave Brussels sprouts into very thin slices using a mandoline or sharp knife.  Toss all together in a bowl until well mixed, then add just enough dressing to coat.

Taylor's Notes:
This is a really tedious recipe, but pretty well worth it (if I remember correctly... I actually made this for the fourth of July).  If you've never cooked with Brussels sprouts, you need to wash them well and peel off any of the outside leaves that aren't tight to the sprout.  Be very careful shaving the Brussels sprouts.  You can easily shave those little guys right on down to your thumb or finger if you're not paying attention.  

When you cook the pancetta there won't be 1/2 cup worth of fat that drips off.  That was what we expected to happen, but as it so happens, you'll actually break or cut off the fat from the edges of the cooked pancetta.  See, cooking is learning!  


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