I was watching Masterchef Australia recently – I’m obsessed! – when the contestants had to make grapes the star ingredient of a dish. It made me realise that I don’t cook enough with grapes. I love them when they are roasted, like in this Roasted Grapes with Feta and Walnuts.So I got thinking about what to pair them with and I was going down the cauliflower route for a salad. And then it dawned on me – sprouts! I was looking for a new recipe for Brussels Sprouts anyway given the time of year so I thought this dish of Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Grapes would be a perfect side dish.
So now you know how my mind works and I know what you’re thinking, “she needs to get out more”. And you’d be right. But anyway, on with the recipe. I had been thinking cranberries paired with sprouts and then pomegranates, but I already have a recipe with this pairing. I knew grapes would work well but I still wanted to use pomegranates in some way so I went with using molasses in the glaze instead. It adds a beautiful sharpness to the dish.
Useful tips & links:
- If you want to make this meat free, leave out the bacon. It will still taste delicious.
- To speed up the cooking time you can blanch the sprouts before frying but I like to keep the washing up to a minimum so I just fry them in the pan for a bit longer.
- This can be made in advance up to the point of cooking the grapes. When you are ready to reheat, add the vinegar and molasses and simply put back on a medium heat for a few minutes.
- This can be served hot or at room temperature so the leftovers would make a tasty lunch.
- If you like, you can add some nuts to this, pecans or candied walnuts would be great.
- For more ideas for using brussels sprouts have a look at my Brussels Sprouts Beetroot and Pomegranate Salad or this gorgeous looking salad of Shredded Sprouts, Apple and Pecan from Mary at Nufo.ie.
Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Grapes
Serves 4 as a side dish
- 450g/500g bag of Brussels sprouts, trimmed and tough outer leaves removed
- 100g diced smoked pancetta or smoked bacon
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- A knob of butter
- 1 shallot, finely sliced
- 1 clove of garlic
- 125g of red grapes, halved
- Salt and pepper
- 1½ tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of pomegranate molasses
- Heat a wide pan on a medium heat and add the bacon cubes. Fry them until they have started to crisp up and then remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.
- Next fry the shallot slices in the bacon fat until soft and starting to caramelise but take care not to burn them. Remove and drain them with the pancetta.
- While the pancetta and shallots are cooking, trim the sprouts and remove the outer leave. Cut them in halves or quarters depending on their size. Some of mine were really tiny so I left them whole. When the shallots are removed from the pan, add the oil and butter and keep the heat at medium. Add the spouts, stir occasionally and fry them until they have softened and started to caramalise.
- When the spouts have cooked to your liking, I like to leave a bit of a bite to mine, crush the garlic and add it to the pan with the grapes. After a minute or so, tip the pancetta and shallots back in to the pan.
- Fry until the grapes have started to soften slightly and release some juice into the pan and the pancetta has reheated. Add the balsamic vinegar and pomegranate molasses into the pan and turn up the heat for a minute. Stir until everything is coated in a slight glaze. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.