Friday 22 November 2013


Alright, those who make fun of brussels sprouts, you may stop now. A lot of people wrinkle their noses at these Lilliputian cabbages but still eat them nevertheless. Brussels sprouts are now officially a trendy vegetable. They always appear at the celebratory table for some reason; they are delicious. 

I do understand why some are still unconvinced. I remain quizzical as to why they are boiled 'til all traces of life are gone and all that's left are grey blobs that readily turn to mush at a mere prodding.

Simple boiling doesn't do them favours. They have a delicious flavour that has to be unlocked, with a little bit of help from a few other ingredients. The process is simple, quick and easy.

Cooking them just right helps to retain their fresh taste and colour. I like blanching them to take off a bit of the bitter edge, then sautéing them in some magic ingredients. While the time tested method of cutting X's at the base before boiling is good, I prefer cutting them in halves to expose the layers and to help them absorb more of the seasonings. Smoked pancetta and Marsala wine adds richness to this dish, while lemon zest and fresh parsley provide some freshness. The chestnuts adds an accent in texture and taste. If you still don't like brussels sprouts, now is the time to give it another chance.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings as a side dish


500 gms. of fresh brussels sprouts
1 tbsp. of olive oil
100 gms. smoked pancetta, cut into lardons (smoked bacon may be used)
12 cooked and peeled chestnuts, quartered
1 tsp. lemon zest
2 tbsps. of Marsala wine or sherry
1/8 tsp. of ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. roughly chopped flat leaf parsley


Trim the base of the brussel sprouts. Peel off damaged leaves. Cut in half from top to base. Wash and drain.

Boil plenty of water in a pan or wok. When boiling, add the brussels sprouts. Turn the heat down and simmer for about 6 minutes or until just tender (depending on the size). It should still be bright green in colour. Drain.

Heat up a clean pan. Add the oil then the pancetta lardons. Fry on medium heat until the pancetta renders fat. Strain and reserve the fat.

Using the same pan, put in 2 tbsps. of the pancetta oil. Add the brussels sprouts and fry on medium high heat for 3 minutes, until brown spots start to appear. 

Add the chestnuts, lemon peel and Marsala. Turn the heat down and sauté for 2 minutes. Take off the heat. 

Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley then transfer to a serving dish.

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