Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Holiday Season: All-belly Porchetta with Honey & Bacon Brussels Sprouts

The new year is here! For many, this means new resolutions, old goals approached with a renewed spirit, or simply: keeping on keeping on. For me: it's a recommitment to 'the pursuit of deliciousness'. 

Fortunately enough, I have been reunited with my beloved cookbooks and this has been providing plenty of inspiration. And of course, the past Christmas season has also encouraged me to survey these and my old reliables on the world wide web for occasion-worthy meals and dishes worth-a-go. One such recipe I embarked on was the All-Belly Porchetta (Italian style roast pork) by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt of The Food Lab at Serious Eats

As expected, the result was a tender, succulent, and flavoursome (due to a 'stuffing' of rosemary, garlic, fennel seeds and black peppercorns) centrepiece-alternative. The recipe itself was easy to follow and with its short list of ingredients, it made it all very unintimidating and practically necessary to give a whirl.

All-belly Porchetta with Honey & Bacon Brussels Sprouts and Lentils with Spinach 

We served slices of the porchetta with honey & bacon brussels sprouts (recipe below) and lentils simply tossed with baby spinach and good quality extra virgin olive oil, for a very winter-holiday-worthy meal.

Honey and Bacon Brussels Sprouts serves 4 as a side

We often like to add cubes of pre-roasted pumpkin to this mix, for colour, and additional texture and sweetness, just prior to adding the honey and worcestershire sauce. And if you have them, toasted sesame and pumpkin seeds scattered over when serving provides a lovely warmth and crunch.

500g brussels sprouts, tough outer leaves and stems removed and halved if slightly larger than its counterparts
2 Tbsp grapeseed oil (or your preferred cooking oil)
2 rashers of smoked bacon, roughly diced
1 small onion, diced finely
100ml water
1 Tbsp runny honey (alternatively, you can use pure maple syrup)
1 1/2 Tbsp worcestershire sauce, or to taste
Salt and pepper
Small handful each of sesame and pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted in a dry pan until popping (optional)

Over medium-high heat, in a large pan (ideally one which you have a lid for) sauté onion in the oil until beginning to soften. Add bacon, stirring in pan to combine. After a minute or so, when bacon is mostly cooked, add brussels to pan. Crank heat to high, as if stir-frying, continuously stirring the mix to prevent onion from burning. When the brussels start to gain some colour, add water and cover with a lid (take care as water will steam immediately).

Allow brussels to steam for 3-4 minutes and remove lid. Check brussels for doneness (you're after just tender, not overly soft) and if still very raw, add a little more water and allow to steam with lid off. When water has evaporated, add pumpkin if using (see note), combine, and then add honey, worcestershire sauce and seasoning, to taste. Combine thoroughly and serve in a large platter/bowl with seeds (if using).

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