balsamic braised brussels sprouts

say that three times fast.

so, after weeks of filling you up with creamy, cheesy pasta dishes, sandwiches, pizza & wine, it’s about time for some vegetables.  vegetables with a bad reputation: brussels sprouts.i’ve talked here before about my skepticism with this veggie…& then i tried them & they ended up on the menu at our wedding.

i’ve been a fan ever since.  the mister was a believer already.  he needed no convincing.

& while they’re good roasted & sauteed, braising them in balsamic vinegar?  doesn’t really get any better.  the sweet balsamic coated brussels, caramelized pancetta, all topped with fresh, crispy breadcrumbs is all so, so good that it has easily become our favorite way to cook this redheaded stepchild of a side dish.

serves 6 to 8

1 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
olive oil for coating the bread crumbs & coating the pan
4 tablespoons butter
2 lbs brussels sprouts, washed & trimmed
salt & freshly ground pepper
6 oz pancetta, diced small
3 tablespoons shallot, finely minced
1 tablespoon garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons freshly parsley, chopped

1.  heat oven to 350°.  on a sheet pan, mix together bread crumbs, thyme leaves & enough olive oil to coat.  spread into a thin layer & toast in the oven, stirringly frequently, until golden brown, about 10-12 minutes.

2.  over medium high heat, in a large skillet, melt the butter & 2 tablespoons of olive oil until foamy.  add the brussels, season with salt & freshly ground pepper & saute for about 7-10 minutes, stirringly frequently, until golden brown.  add that delicious chopped pancetta.  saute some more, until the brussels are well browned, slightly softened & pancetta is crisp.  about 10-15 minutes.  reduce the heat & add the shallots & garlic & saute just a little bit more, until fragrant.  1-2 minutes.

3.  now, crank the heat up to high.  pour in balsamic & stock.  cook until brussels are soft, tender & wonderfully glazed…just 20 minutes more.  taste & adjust seasoning, if necessary.  sprinkle with chopped parsley, transfer to a serving dish & top with crispy breadcrumbs.  watch them.  they’ll disappear.

adapted very slightly from smitten kitchen

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