Sunday, July 24, 2016

Recipes :: Slow living Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Walnut Crumbs

Slow living ... a lifestyle emphasising slower approaches to aspects of everyday life (according to Wikipedia). I always look forward to weekends because what I love the most is to slow down from a busy work week and contemplate what to cook, what ingredients to get, and where to get them from.  Just simply appreciating what others see as routine but also it's amazing how new ingredients can freshen up an ordinary dish. Cooking at home allows me to experiment with some fine restaurant quality produce that is readily accessible. A store I visited recently was Vic's Meats Markets at Sydney Fish Markets in Pyrmont being only a few minutes walk from work. They stock premium pasture fed meats that when you cook them, they are so juicy and tender. Also it is one of the stores where you can get the delicious Pepe Saya butter that has a beautiful aroma when you use it for cooking.

One of the most memorable flavours I tried this year was when I was in Auckland, New Zealand earlier this year, at a little eatery called Depot Eatery in the heart of Auckland CBD. I loved it so much that I bought their book by its founder Al Brown, which isn't only a recipe book but it was a biography of the restaurant including stories of their food, the venue, the kitchen, their staff, the people who make their establishment tick. The book is one of the more engaging recipe books I've read. It has recipes of some of the dishes on its menu. One of them I tried in their establishment and also made at home on the weekend is their Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta and Walnut crumbs. It makes a nice winter side dish with skirt steak, fish or lamb or you can have it on its own. Some may say, with their inner child voice, "I don't like Brussel sprouts". I think if you try this one you might be pleasantly surprised as it has simple flavours that work with this vegetable. I didn't follow the recipe line by line but instead worked out what the main flavours were and just combined everything to together.

My version of the Walnut Crumble includes:

2 cups stale bread, crusts removed
1/2 cup walnut halves
1/2 cup butter
1 rosemary
flaky salt and freshly crapped black pepper

I then chopped up 100g of pancetta (I used Smoked Pancetta from Vic's Meats Market) and heated them in the pan for 5 minutes. I added the Brussels Sprouts (there were about 20 pre-packed when I got them from the local fruit store) which I cut in quarters, keeping a little of the stalk so they hold together. I then put the sprouts in the pan with the pancetta and stirred them together for 2 minutes. I then added a cup of chicken stock and allowed it to cook for 10 minutes in medium heat until the sprouts absorb the stock and the excess stock evaporated. I put them in the bowl and mixed it with the walk but crumble and added smoked salt from Smoke and Spice I got from the BBR French Festival last week. I have so many wine bottles at home as I had a box sent to me from James Estate from the Hunter Valley which I'm very grateful for. I opened up bottle of the James Estate Hunter Valley Pinot Noir 2013, an elegant smooth bodied wine with a good balance between ripe fruit flavours and well integrated spicy oak. It was light and very smooth to drink indeed and goes well with this dish.
Hope you get to try this dish!


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