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Brussels Sprouts with Gin, Pancetta, Caraway, and Sherry Vinegar (SproutKraut) inspired by Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now

Brussels sprouts are nature’s cargo truck for fat and salt. And now, the sprout truck is delivering gin.

Back that thing up right over here, please.

I grew up in a Brussels sprouts-free home. My dad had a deep, searing hatred for them, so my mom never, ever made a batch. I think they may have included that in some informal prenup.

So my first taste of them was roasting them a few years ago in the oven with pancetta, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Crispy, salty, and a slick coat of olive oil, Brussels sprouts seemed created to deliver everything that makes me happy in a meal.

So when a few bloggers decided to blog about recipes in Melissa Clark’s new book, Shove This in Your Face Now: OMG THIS IS GOOD FOOD, we jumped at the sprouts. Melissa’s book is also known as Cook This Now: 120 Easy and Delectable Dishes You Can’t Wait to Make. We prefer our title, but whatever.
(As an aside, if you were sitting with us at our dinner table, eyeing the wine bottle for a second glass, as I am this evening, I would tell you that Melissa Clark is magic and genius and probably poops kittens but this is an unverifiable fact by us, non-family members, but sweet baby j, we like her so much and her food is spectacular every time and I took her book to Brussels, Belgium OMG I am so not kidding I went to Brussels and now we’re making something inspired by her Brussels sprouts recipe in her second book but I took her book with me which was the only thing I took to read on the plane and it is full of magic and perfect writing and I want to be her at least her writing, if one can be like someone's writing, when I grow up, but that’s borderline creepy to say so I won’t but I do and also I need more wine.

That is an actual conversation you would have with us. We understand if you don’t ask for a dinner invitation.)

Melissa’s books, over the last year, have become our go-to recipe source for great food that never fails. Ever. So when we saw her latest book was coming out at the beginning of October, we pre-ordered on Amazon and then counted down the days.

We’ve made six recipes so far. Buy the book, as soon as you can. You need more good food in your life.

When Shauna at Gluten Free Girl and the Chef asked if we wanted to do an interpretation of Melissa’s Brussels sprouts, we jumped at the chance. We don’t make up our own recipes, so creating something new from the ingredients in Melissa’s recipe was a challenge, only for our lack of creativity. Go look at their version of Melissa's for realz Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Caraway

Then it struck us...SproutKraut. Melissa, in her introduction to the recipe, talked about looking at the pile of shredded sprouts and thinking about sauerkraut. That inspired her to include caraway seeds along with pancetta. Getting closer to sauerkraut with the caraway.

We decided to take it the whole way to krautland (differnt than Birdland, thank you Manhattan Transfer), at least a quick one. And the results made Karen think about childhood Thanksgiving in Baltimore. Every year, along with turkey and oyster stuffing, her grandmother’s Thanksgiving day table included sauerkraut. Whenever Karen sees or smells sauerkraut (her grandmother’s made with a nice slice of fatback), she’s transported back to South Baltimore near Brooklyn Park, not far from her grandfather’s welding shop. This makes her happy, so I’ve tried to learn to love sauerkraut

When we saw Molly Wizenberg’s
gin-soaked sauerkraut inspired
by her own Baltimore roots, we knew we had to try it. And I finally loved sauerkraut. The results were so good, we decided to use it as an additional inspiration for Melissa’s Brussels sprouts sauerkraut. Gin, pancetta, caraway, shredded sprouts, and sherry vinegar.

We ate it out of the pan. All two pounds (we made a double batch) of gin-tinged, tangy, salty, perfect Brussels sprouts. Make this for your holiday table as the kicky punch of happy.

Melissa Clark, in addition to the perfect pie crust recipe, gives you food that is full of flavor, easy to make, with a giant punch of happy. Cook This Now. And go be happy.

Brussels Sprouts with Gin, Pancetta, Caraway, and Sherry Vinegar (SproutKraut) inspired by Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now

1 pound Brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, diced small (about ½ cup)
1 cup gin
½ cup water
¼ - ½ cup sherry vinegar (depending on how much punch to your face you want)
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 ½ teaspoons caraway seeds
½ teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Remove the uglyish leaves from the sprouts. Cut off the weird core thing where it attaches to the stem. If you’ve got a food processor, insert the slicing blade and go to town. If you don’t have a food processor, go ahead and slice the sprouts by hand and hate people who have food processors because they sort of suck. Set the sprouts, and your seething anger, aside.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a very large pan. Like really big. Not roasting pan big, but big. Also, it should have a cover. Maybe use a cookie sheet if you don’t have a cover.

Add the pancetta and cook until a nice shade of tan/brown and then remove the crispy pieces with a slotted spoon. Place the crispies on a paper towel.

Tell everyone that you removed the pancetta fat from the pan but secretly leave it all in there because fat tastes good and people should live a little. Not like have a heart attack, but this fat tastes good and maybe don’t serve this to people with heart conditions. That’s our recommendation.

Add half the vinegar to the pan. It will let off very aggressive steam that feels uncomfortable and makes you cough. Carry on and scrape the brown bits of pancetta off the bottom of your pan until they’re all up in the vinegar/fat swirling goodness. You’re welcome, you just added a lot of flavor to your SproutKraut.

Add in the other ingredients except for the remaining vinegar. Hold on to that mother until you see how everything tastes after some cook time.

Place the cover on the pan. Set the timer for 10 minutes. Drink some gin.

When the timer goes off, remove the lid. Drink more gin and set the timer for 10 more minutes. Maybe 15. You’re looking for just a little liquid at the bottom of the pan. Sprouts will have a tiny bit of crunch to them.

Uncover and taste. Start adding in the vinegar and some salt and pepper until you’re happy. Stir in half of the crispy pancetta.

Place SproutKraut in a serving dish and top with the remaining pancetta for crunch and awesomeness.


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Reader Comments (16)

This seriously sounds so good. I love me some tangy crispy cabbage!

Hope all is well down south! Chatham is still without power and Halloween has been postponed 'til Friday! (in case you were wondering...)

November 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmy Kim

Thank you for this recipe. And for making me laugh a lot. Today was pretty much the worst day I've had since becoming a parent (kiddo is 12 and generally awesome, but something tells me there are some more dark times ahead) so I really needed to giggle. MWAH!

November 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWinnie

All I can say is <SWOON>

November 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanis

Not sure if this was inspired by Faulkner or e.e. cummings, or both, but it made me laugh. + the recipe sounds mahvelous.

November 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLucy

I had no idea y'all had Baltimore connections. BP is maybe 10-15 minutes away from me.

I love brussel sprouts but loathe sauerkraut. However you've added booze so now I'm intrigued.

November 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAdryon

@Amy Kim, sad to hear about how bad things are in NJ. Our house got nailed a little bit with gutter damage. Could be much worse. Hope you've got power back and are ready to tick or treat this week!

November 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChris

@Winnie, that stinks about the bad day. Glad our ramblings made you laugh. MWAH right back at you.

November 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChris

@Janis, you'll be all over this one. Gin, tangy, salty (just like you).

November 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChris

As you know, I'm another huge fan of Melissa Clark's. I'm also a fan of Brussels sprouts (late discovery here too). But I've never shredded the sprouts (love your food processor alternative) and I've never added gin. Time for me to get adventurous!

November 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCooks_Books

I LOVE Gin, and I also love Brussel Sprouts, so the two combined would definitely be delicious!

This is something I could have NEVER dreamed up, kudos to you two!!!!

We have Brussel sprouts at our Thanksgiving Table every year, and perhaps this year we'll try them like this :-)

Mmmm - I *LOVE* brussel sprouts! Will have to try this recipe.

November 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie Cole

I love brussel sprouts!

December 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth

I HATE Brussel sprouts. I don't like eating them whole...but shredded like sauerkraut? Why haven't I thought of this before? Maybe now, I will like them!

January 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJen Laceda

I've only browsed the first page so far and I already want you to adopt me so I can eat all that delicious food.

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEric Mathiasen

Haha, I am so happy I came across this recipe and your blog. I'm trying it tonight with some brats (Super Bowl) and can't wait. Absolutely love your since of humor...*following*

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSyrah

I am frequently hunting out great Paleo recipes on the web....and I stumbled sideways onto this one. I haven't explored your recipe vault, but I have to say that I fell in love with your writing and humor right away! I've 'reading listed' you and will have to come back and spend some quality time reading through your posts, with that glass of wine, or two. Thanks so much! (ps....we've only just started, and can't quite seem to stop, eating brussel sprouts....gin? hmmmmm.....we might develop and addiction:) Thanks for a variation that I can't wait to try! )

April 25, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjennifer

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