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Brussels sprouts can't be disguised

Although I graciously offer to cook a Thanksgiving feast for the family masses each year - a crowd of 16 to 20 - they still give me a hard time when the big day arrives.

"So, how are you going to try to pass off the Brussels sprouts this time?"

Touche.

Every year I make 'em, trying out an exciting new recipe that I'm sure will make them a hit.

And every year people take a token sprout (yes, just one) and often leave it sitting on the plate when the dishes are cleared.

Even adding bacon hasn't helped, for goodness sake, so I upped the ante. Not just fried pork. Crispy fried pork nuggets!

When my sauteed Brussels sprouts arrived at the Thanksgiving table this year, studded with glistening ribbons of caramelized shallots, they were also sprinkled with tiny fried cubes of salty pancetta and drizzled with dill pickle juice - yes, pickle juice.

And they were ridiculously awesome.

But how did the family react? They asked for a serving of just the pancetta topping. By itself.

Sigh.

I stand by the recipe, and I'm including the one I used for inspiration this year. I did make a few changes. I used pancetta instead of salt pork, because it was already cubed in packages in the Kroger cheese and deli case, plus I quartered (instead of halved) the sprouts and sliced the shallots into thinner pieces.

I also added periodic splashes of chicken stock during the saute process, so the sprouts would stay moist and soak up a little more flavor, and I plated the dish by mixing everything together instead of spooning the sprouts over the cooked shallots.

The dish pictured this week is my interpretation of the Bon Appetit recipe shown.

***

Perhaps the fam would have appreciated my sprouts more if they were served as part of a $26,000 meal that also comes with a rare Italian wristwatch and a daylong cooking class?

That's exactly what one Philadelphia restaurant offered - a $26,000 truffle dinner, to be exact.

Le Castagne, a Northern Italian restaurant located in the city's Rittenhouse Square, recently unveiled the exclusive offering featuring some of the rarest ingredients in the world, including the world's most expensive ingredient: white truffles.

The nine-course dinner for four included:

* Puree of pumpkin soup, faro almonds, pumpkin oil and white truffles

* Milanese-style egg, truffle breadcrumbs, spinach, roasted cherry tomatoes, truffle vinaigrette and Humboldt Fog goat cheese

* Beef tartare with marinated pioppini mushrooms, shaved Parmesan cheese, quail egg and white truffle ricotta mousse

* Tagliatelle con tartufi bianchi pasta with Parmesan cheese sauce and white shaved truffle

* Veal rack, roasted baby potatoes, turnips, bacon, Parmesan and shaved white truffle

* Roasted quail stuffed with house-made sausage, potato, guanciale and finished with black truffle demi-glace

* Creamy polenta, wild mushrooms, pancetta and shaved white truffles

* Fillet of dover sole stuffed with scallop, shrimp mousse and black truffle beurre blanc

* Chocolate lava cake with truffle ricotta gelato and honey

* Wine pairing with each course from the world-renowned Antinori Estates

* One 47mm Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 Amagnetic 3 Days Automatic Titanio wristwatch, a limited-edition Italian time piece manufactured by Officine Panerai

* And one full-day Italian cooking class conducted by Le Castagne executive chef Michael DeLone

We once paid $600 for dinner for two at the exclusive French Laundry in Napa Valley, but never in a million years would we spring for this. Wonder just how many such dinners they sold?

You can check out a video highlighting the experience at http://bit.ly/UFVMNZ.  

Contact writer Steven Keith at dailymailfoodguy@aol.com or 304-348-1721. You can also follow him on Facebook and Pinterest as "DailyMail FoodGuy," on Twitter as "DMFoodGuy" or read his blog at http://blogs.dailymail.com/foodguy/.

Brussels Sprouts with Shallots and Salt Pork

1 cup 1/4-inch cubes salt pork or pancetta (about 8 ounces)

2 large shallots, peeled and quartered (about 1 1/2 cups)

  • alt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 lbs. Brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed, trimmed and halved

    1-2 Tbsp. juice from jarred dill pickles

    1. Blanch salt pork in a large saucepan of boiling water for one minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer salt pork to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

    2. Cook salt pork in a large heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until about 3/4 cup fat is rendered, 10-12 minutes. Carefully strain drippings into a small bowl, but return 2 tablespoons drippings and pork to pan. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until salt pork is browned and crisp, 5-6 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

    3. Reduce heat to medium. Add 2 tablespoons reserved drippings to skillet and add shallots, cut sides down. Cook, turning once or twice, until tender and browned, 10-12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer shallots to a serving platter.

    4. Increase heat to medium-high. Add 2 tablespoons more of reserved drippings to skillet. Working in 2 batches and adding 2 more tablespoons of drippings between batches, cook Brussels sprouts, turning occasionally, until tender and browned. Transfer Brussels sprouts to platter with shallots.

    5. Drizzle shallots and Brussels sprouts with 1 tablespoon pickle juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon more pickle juice, if desired. Scatter salt pork over.

    Recipe courtesy Bon Appetit.

     


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