Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Penne with Brussels Sprouts, Pancetta & Chilli

A bit of a departure here from my usual posting habits, in that I'm actually posting this pretty close to the cooking and eating thereof. It's the use of sprouts you see: a lot of the recipes I post you can get the ingredients year round whereas you really only see sprouts in great numbers around Christmas.

And so here I was, looking for a recipe to use up one of the last of our Christmas provisions (I knew what I was going to do with chestnuts): a half bag of Brussels sprouts and came across this one in the NY Times online, which I have slightly adapted.

As luck would have it I cooked my sprouts with a little pancetta (as well as the aforementioned chestnuts) on Christmas Day so had everything I needed for this. Which in my book makes it a fridge & store cupboard meal which is always a bonus.

You can thinly slice sprouts using a mandolin but as you don’t need them evenly done it is probably easier to just trim and thinly slice with a sharp knife: maybe recruiting some help for this part of the prep.

I used just shy of a whole, generic chilli that you get in the supermarkets but next time I would probably use a bit more.

I must admit I really didn’t have particularly high expectations of this but it certainly exceeded them: it is extremely and surprisingly good and I may even buy sprouts especially for it rather than just reserving it for the post-Christmas period.

Penne with Brussels Sprouts, Pancetta & Chilli
serves 2

sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
200g penne (I used wholewheat)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
115g pancetta, diced
1 large rosemary sprig
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 chilli, thinly sliced
200g brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
10g butter
½ lemon, juiced
Parmesan cheese, to serve

Bring a large pan of heavily salted water to a boil then add the penne and cook until it is just al dente.

Meanwhile, heat large sauté or frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the olive oil. When it is hot, add the pancetta and rosemary, and sauté until the fat on the pancetta starts to turn lightly brown - a minute or so.

Add the garlic, chilli and a hefty grind of black pepper and sauté until the pancetta turns richly brown, about 3 minutes.

Add the Brussels sprouts, a large pinch of salt and a splash of water to pan, and sauté until the sprouts just start to soften, about 2 minutes. Spread the sprouts mixture over the pan, pressing down to flatten. Let it sear for a minute, then stir it up and repeat so the sprouts are lightly browned in places.

Remove the rosemary sprig then add the butter, and sauté for another minute. Stir through the lemon juice.

Drain the penne, reserving a little water, and add to pan with the sprouts and pancetta mixture. Stir, tossing with a couple of tablespoons of the cooking water, until everything is well mixed. Spoon into pasta bowls and top with a little grated parmesan.

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