Brussels Sprouts are enjoying comeback over the last 10 years. Once shunned by some home and professional cooks and those they cook for, these colorful little cabbage like marbles came into the own over the last 10 years. Inventive ways of cooking them or even shaved raw into a slaw or salad they are a fall thru Spring staple. Hardly an American Thanksgiving table anymore without a home cook’s interesting version of brussels sprouts especially ones that are caramelized with onions and maybe something sweet added. Popular additions are onions, garlic, various nuts, Balsamic vinegar glaze, cured and/or smoked meats. They are pan roasted, seared, oven roasted, blanched, oh you get the picture. My sainted Mom, she was an amazing home cook but Brussels Sprouts in the 1960’s home kitchen were a brutal affair and her’s were terrible. In season she’d buy those nice little pint cups of them and out of season they came in a frozen square block (not even sure that frozen vegetable type is still around) and she would boil them until every article of clothing in the house reeks of the sulfuric cabbage stench. Some how the cold outside and steam heat from the radiators in our house only intensified that stink in the middle of the winter. The end result were off colored mushy, tasteless, watery disasters. Dislike. Now I’m not picking on Mom….Brussels Sprouts and two other dishes out of the tens of thousands she made were the only 3 #fails in her kitchen. So if she were still here with us I’m sure she’d not be too offended. For a recent dinner at home for time’s sake I like to add the starch with the vegetable when it makes sense (AFO RULE: NOT EVERY MARRIAGE IS A GOOD ONE!!! I’m talking, in the kitchen of course!). I had a pint of brussels sprouts, there’s always lots of macaroni in my pantry and there was green onion and pancetta in the fridge. I used what’s labeled as GNOCCHI, it comes from Italy, dried pasta in 1 lb. It’s perfect for this dish. Don’t confuse it with the potato or ricotta gnocchi which are totally different. Medium Shells would be a good substitute if you can’t find the dry pasta Gnocchi. I looked in the fridge again and saw the Parmigiano-Reggiano and heavy cream. DONE. Combine them all into a side dish (which can also be served as a pasta entree). Let’s cook, enough of my bla bla bla.
PASTA ALLA PANNA (CREAM) WITH BRUSSELS SPROUTS, PANCETTA AND GREEN ONION
- 6 ounces PANCETTA, diced fine or thinly sliced and diced
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/4 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
- 1 cup homemade or low-sodium /99% fat free chicken stock
- 1/4 cup DRY WHITE WINE, preferably Italian
- Coarse orKosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 16oz ( 1 lb) DRY MEDIUM SHELLS or DRY PASTA GNOCCHI (different from the fresh)
- 1/4 cup HEAVY CREAM, ORGANIC would be best.
- 3/4 cup freshly grated PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO, have extra on hand for serving
- 3 thin sliced GREEN ONIONS (SCALLIONS)
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tbs of the Extra Virgin Olive Oil then then pancetta until crisp, up to 5-7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon transfer to a paper-towel-lined sheet . Add another tbs of oil to the bacon fat in skillet Add the sprouts and cook, stirring occasionally until golden Takes about 3 minutes. Add the stock and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook for about 10-12 minutes until all the liquid is pretty much evaporated. Add the cream and coat the sprouts with it. Cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Cook the Dry Gnocchi (Secchi) or shells just till al dente. Drain but reserve 1/8 cup of the salted cooking pasta water. Add the gnocchi back to the pot.
Stir in sprouts and cream mixture and the cheese. Gently blend well. If too thick add some of the reserved pasta water. Add the pancetta and 1/2 the green onions and 1 tbs of the olive oil. Gently blend well. Serve with more Green Onion, Black Pepper and Parmigiano on top.
Makes 4-6 servings for an entree, up to 8 for side dish. Not too hard right? Looks and tastes like you put out much more work. BUON APPETITO….sorry Mom for throwing you under the bus for those nightmarish Brussels Sprouts you use to make. Everything else was amazing!!!