Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Shallots and GuancialeFrom The Sides Project
Midwest Vegetable: Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Shallots and Guanciale
Even people who don't like Brussels sprouts will eat them in the guise of Thanksgiving tradition, especially when there's some sort of pork fat in the mix. This version goes straight to the heartland, home to Iowa's La Quercia (laquercia.us), the neo-traditional makers of some of the finest cured meat in our charcuterie-crazed country. Their artisan salumi includes Guanciale Americano, a cured pork jowl with a touch of rosemary, used like slab bacon. Because La Quercia products are made from pigs freely ranged on vegetarian, grain-based diets and only two ingredients (pork and sea salt) or three (pork, sea salt and spices) added ingredients, the rendered guanciale fat is silky-smooth with farm-fresh flavor.
2 and 1/2 pounds whole Brussels sprouts (sliced about 8 cups)
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
6 ounces guanciale, diced 1/4-inch (can substitute pancetta)
1 cup peeled and sliced shallots (about 1/8-inch thick)
1 and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup water or stock
Trim the stem end from the Brussels sprouts, and remove the tough dark green and/or any damaged leaves. Slice the sprouts top to bottom, about 1/8-inch thick.
In a large heavy sauté pan, add the vegetable oil and guanciale, and place over medium heat.
Render the guanciale until golden brown and crisp, about 7 to 10 minutes. Stir in the shallots, spreading them out in an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Cook until the shallots are golden brown on the bottom side. Then stir and spread them out again (browned sides up) to repeat the process, continuing to cook until nicely caramelized, about another 10 minutes.
Add the sliced Brussels sprouts a handful at a time, mixing them into the caramelized shallots and coating them with the rendered fat.
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When all of the sprouts are in the pan, pour the water (or stock) over top. The liquid will steam up and work to wilt and soften the sprouts so they will sauté better (otherwise they won't sit flat on the bottom of the pan).
Add salt and pepper, and sauté until the sprouts are tender and lightly colored, about 10 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper seasoning. Serve warm.
This dish benefits greatly in taste and appearance from a basic cooking technique: Caramelizing, or the process of using high heat to brown sugars (in this case, those found naturally in shallots).
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