In the Kitchen with Jackie — Roasted Sweet & Smoky Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta + Grilled Cheese!

Thanksgiving is a unique holiday because its entire existence is centered upon one meal. So it’s common for those of us cooking to feel a lot of pressure in the kitchen to really nail it. As much I love to cook, I get intimidated to take on the entire meal so I like to cook things that I’ve made before. That way, I’ll be more confident in the kitchen on the big day. I encourage you to try out all of your recipes in the days leading up to Thanksgiving at least once. No, not the whole meal but maybe just a recipe at a time. You can start with these whole roasted Brussels Sprouts.

Before you completely recoil at the thought, Brussels Sprouts are having a resurgence, I think. At some point we collectively decided that they taste pretty darn good with a crispy roasted exterior instead of sad little steamed heads of cabbage. I dare all the haters to give this recipe a try, especially since it involves pancetta AND smoky maple syrup. These sprouts will be dressed to impress for the occasion. But why pancetta over bacon? While they are similar, pancetta has a richer pork flavor and carries a little more sweetness and chewiness. It pairs wonderfully with the smoky sweetness of the maple syrup. The method uses a super hot pan — I use cast iron — to crisp the outside leaves while allowing the whole sprout to cook completely. These crunchy, savory morsels are sweet, they’re smoky, and they’re exactly the kind of side you want in your Thanksgiving lineup.

After you make these and I’ve got you on team Brussels Sprout, you might have some leftovers. Instead of just eating a microwaved plate of Thanksgiving remnants, try making this grilled cheese sandwich with your sprouts. Emilio suggested using Gruyere Alpage to complement the sprouts, and I’ve added a dollop of cranberry sauce for an added zing! You can use your cranberry sauce of choice, or you can pick up a jar of Sister Mary’s Sinfully Delicious Cranberry Sauce made from the folks at Project HOME

Roasted Sweet & Smoky Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

1 stalk of Brussels sprouts, rinsed, ends trimmed, and rough outer leaves of larger sprouts removed
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 oz pancetta, finely diced
2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp Sugar Bob’s Smoked Maple Syrup
Sourdough bread, sliced ½ inch thick
Sister Mary’s Sinful Cranberry Sauce
8 oz Gruyere Alpage

For the Sprouts:
Preheat oven to 400°F.
In a cast iron pan or another stove-to-oven pan, cook the pancetta until browned.
Using a slotted spoon remove the cooked pancetta and turn off the heat.
Place the trimmed Brussels sprouts in a large bowl. Toss with garlic and apple cider vinegar.
Add sprouts to the pan and toss them in the reserved pancetta fat.

Sprinkle liberally with salt and a few turns of black pepper.
Roast the sprouts for 30 minutes total. At 15 minutes take the pan out to stir and add a splash of water to loosen up any crispy bits.
Cook for another 13 minutes. At this time stir the sprouts aggressively to loosen up outer leaves. Add the pancetta bits to the pan and add the smoked maple syrup.

Return to the oven for another 2 minutes or so.
Sprouts should be browned in spots and yield slightly at the push of the spatula.
This method produces a cooked sprout throughout, with a crispy exterior.

For the Grilled Cheese 
Makes two sandwiches

  1. Pile ¼ of the Gruyere on two slices of bread. 

  2. Add roughly chopped sprouts and pancetta bits on the cheese. Add a dollop of cranberry sauce in the middle.
    Pile the rest of the cheese equally between the two sandwiches. Top with the other slices of bread. The sandwiches should look colossal and impossible to eat.
    Grill one sandwich at a time. Transfer a sandwich to a griddle primed with butter. Use a heavy pan to weight the sandwich – like a panini press. As the bread becomes crispy, the weight of the pan will help to melt the cheese in the middle. After a few minutes peek under the sandwich to see if it’s done – golden brown in color. Flip and cook again on the other side. 
  3. Previously on In the Kitchen with Jackie:

    Ottanta al Tartufo Mac & Cheese

    Trick or Treat Cheeseboard

    Autumn Delicata Squash Salad

    Cacio e Pepe

    Hello! My name is Jackie Botto and I’ve been working with Di Bruno Bros. for almost five years now styling, photographing and sometimes cooking with all the phenomenal ingredients they offer. CHEESE? Yes, mostly cheese. This blog is the space where I’ll share the things I make. No, I am not a professional chef, I’m a home chef! I cook for myself, my family, my friends – and then I take photos of what I make with the hope it inspires you to cook too.

    Want to share some tips or pairings of your own? Please leave a comment below!