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.
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
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.