Balsamic Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

It seems this will be the last Spin Cycle for awhile; Jen is taking a little vacation from it.  I can understand why – it has to be a huge time commitment on her part to not only come up with a subject every week, but link up to all of the participants and write a post of her own.  I mean, we get to choose whether or not we participate, and Jen does not.

The subject for this final Spin Cycle is “Giving Thanks.”  I hadn’t thought too much about what I was going to write, but then I started to ponder my stress over what to make – and eat – on Thanksgiving Day next week.  And I started to be a tad ashamed of myself.

I’m grateful I have the privilege of being able to worry about what to cook and eat.  I’m grateful I have the time, money, ability and home in which to cook an extravagant meal for my family (that I’m grateful for the family goes without saying, although given some of the unbloggable going on in my life, it probably shouldn’t).  I’m grateful I have the intelligence and resources to be able to make an informed choice about my diet and health.  I’m grateful to have the support of my family and friends, real life and virtual, while I venture down this path of diet that goes so against what passes for conventional wisdom these days.

I’m also grateful for the advice I was given when I sent out my plea for help on Tuesday.  In the end, I took a little bit of everyone’s advice – I’m making a few traditional dishes, reworking some of them to fit in with our new way of eating, and including new dishes like this one.  And boy, am I grateful for this recipe – it is now my favorite Brussels sprouts dish.  As written, it only serves 3, so I’ll double it on Turkey Day.

Balsamic Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

Balsamic Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

serves 3

2 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

10 ounces fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons. unsalted butter

Kosher or sea salt

Heat a heavy, 10″ saute pan or skillet over medium-low heat; slowly cook the pancetta in 1 tablespoon of the oil until golden and crisp all over, 10 to 15 minutes.

With a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a plate lined with paper towels, leaving the fat behind; add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil.  Increase the heat to medium-high heat and arrange the sprouts, cut side down, in a single layer.   Cook undisturbed until nicely browned, 4 to 5 minutes (watch carefully so they don’t burn). When the sprouts are browned, add the water to the pan, cover immediately, and simmer until the sprouts are fork tender, about 6 or 7 minutes. (If the water evaporates before the sprouts get tender, add more water, 1/4 cup at a time.) Transfer the sprouts to a plate.

Return the pan to medium-high heat and boil off any remaining water. Add the balsamic vinegar and a few grinds of pepper.  Bring the vinegar to a boil and cook, swirling the sauce in the pan, until it’s reduced by half and looks lightly syrupy, about 1 or 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the butter, and stir until melted. Return the sprouts and pancetta to the pan and gently toss to evenly coat the sprouts with the sauce. Season to taste with salt and more pepper and serve.

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Brussels Sprouts on Foodista