You know what really warms my heart? The thought of chestnuts roasting on an open fire.
Well, kind of. Because up until this week, I had never cooked with or tasted a chestnut, let alone roasted one on an open fire — which, by the way, actually sounds kind of dangerous.
So I sought out to make this incongruence a thing of the past. And I am so glad I did, because it turns out I love these little guys just as much as my 12-year-old Christmas-carol-addicted soul imagined I would. They are the tastiest — soft, yet bitey, with a vague molasses flavor, a perfect friend to just about any winter vegetable that I can think of.
Of course, the first winter vegetable that I do think of is the Brussels sprout, and so here we are. We fry up some bacon, we saute our sprouts and cooked chestnuts in the rendered fat, we braise them in hard apple cider, and — voila.
Sure, we are swiftly slumping our way towards Christmas, and this dish would be a great one for just that occasion. But you could give this one a try for Thanksgiving too. And for, like, every weeknight dinner along the way. Just drop a poached egg on top, and dinner is served.
There. Warm heart. Full belly.
Cider-Braised Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts and Bacon.
- 4 pieces of uncured bacon
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1-1/2 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
- ~6-1/2 ounces cooked chestnuts (I used a vacuum-sealed package from Trader Joe’s that measured about 1 cup)
- Sea salt + cracked black pepper
- ~1-1/2 cup hard apple cider (a bit less than 1 bottle)
In a large cast-iron skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until it is crispy. Set the bacon aside and drain all but about 2 tablespoons of the drippings from the pan and reserve for another use.
Add the garlic and saute for just a minute, until soft. Add the Brussels sprouts and chestnuts and a big pinch of salt and saute for about 5-7 minutes, until the sprouts begin to brown just a touch. Add the cider and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and braise the sprouts and chestnuts uncovered for about 20 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed and the sprouts are fork tender. Add more cider as necessary. Crumble the bacon and add it back to the pan, mixing all the ingredients together until the bacon is warm. Serve as a side or as a poached egg-topped entree.