A meat and carbohydrates heavy Thanksgiving dinner calls for at least one green vegetable side. This year, I decided on Brussels sprouts, one of Jan’s favorites. However, being a holiday meal I wanted something more than just plain steamed sprouts.
I skimmed the titles of several Brussels sprout recipes and thought about my ingredients list. While being another carbohydrate, wild rice has a pleasant nutty flavor. A common addition to sprouts recipes was bacon, pancetta is basically a fancy Italian bacon. For my family, onions and garlic are a must.
With several side dishes, I wanted a cooking method that would survive that chaotic last minutes before serving, without a lot of attention. I wanted a dish that I could prepare ahead and then throw into the turkey-hot oven to finish it off . Par-cooking the vegetables and assembling the ingredient in a nice casserole seemed a like good idea.
Karl’s Brussels Sprouts with Wild Rice and Pancetta
¼ cup wild rice
1 lb. Brussels sprouts
2 oz. pancetta, ¼ inch dice
¼ cup yellow onion, diced
¼ tsp. Kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ tsp. black pepper
1. Put the rice and 1½ cups of water in a small pot and bring it to a boil.
2. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 30 minutes—until the rice is tender.
Tip: Wild rice still has the hard hull and takes a lot longer to cook than polished rice.
3. Remove the pot from the heat, drain any remaining water, and set the rice aside.
4. Trim the Brussels sprouts and cut them in half.
Tip: When I buy my Brussels sprouts I pick the smaller ones that will cook more quickly than the tough large ones.
5. Put the vegetables and steam them for about five minutes.
Tip: This will half cook them and guarantee that they will cook completely while roasting in the oven.
6. Rinse the sprouts in cool water to stop them from overcooking.
7. Put the pancetta in a large pan and sauté it over a medium high heat until it has released its flavorful fat.
8. Sauté the onions with the salt, until the onions are starting to pick up some color.
9. Pull the onions and pork to the sides of the pan.
10. Sauté the garlic until fragrant, about one minute.
11. Add the rice, sprouts, and pepper to the pan and toss to thoroughly mix the ingredients.
12. Pam a 9 x 9 inch casserole.
13. Spread the vegetables and rice evenly across the dish.
Note: You can set this dish aside until half an hour before dinner—covered and refrigerated, if putting it in hold for more than an hour.
14. Thirty minutes before serving, put the casserole in a 350º F oven to finish cooking.
15. Serve warm in the casserole.