roamin' catholic: karin rosner

Brussels Sprouts, Christmas and Jesus

Posted on: December 20, 2011

ImageI love Brussels Sprouts. I really, really do. I can eat them all year ’round. At lunchtime yesterday, I went to one of the Korean Salad Bars near my office, and scooped up a little cold angel hair pasta, a cupful of roasted Brussels Sprouts, some mushrooms, tomatoes, olives, a little mozzarella cheese and  and a little chopped hardboiled egg, and I was perfectly content for 30 minutes and created a absolutely delicious and healthy Midtown Lunch for under $7.00.

Brussels Sprouts come in to season in the USA just as the weather turns colder, Thanksgiving appears on the calendar and we light the first candle of the Advent Season. In the northern hemisphere, in the UK and throughout Europe they are a feature of the Christmas table. If they’re cooked properly, the major turn-offs to this tiny member of the cabbage family go away. There is no smelly kitchen, and no smelly eater of the little green guys, either.

Here’s my observations on  Brussels Sprouts and how Jesus acts in our lives. Can you add more?

  • Brussels Sprouts can get dirty, so you need to soak them in water. (Baptism)
  • When cooking them, it’s really helpful to slash their cores with a cross. (Conversion)
  • Fire-roasting them makes them loose their bitterness and they become sweet. (Release of the Holy Spirit)

Transform your table, and get to know my little green friends. Here is Nigella Lawson‘s great recipe that I haul out on Christmas and Thanksgiving for Brussels Sprouts. Pancetta is an Italian bacon-ham thing and you can substitute a really good quality, thick-cut American premium bacon if you can’t find Pancetta. You can find vacuum-packed chestnuts in gourmet shops, and I’ve found frozen ones in Trader Joe’s. The jarred ones do not work as well, but they will do if they’re all you can find (compare sugar content on the label; there should be no sugar added!). If you have time, you can carefully roast fresh chestnuts; they also need a cross hatched into them!

Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts, Pancetta and Parsley (Nigella Lawson from Nigella’s Christmas Kitchen, 2007)


  • 2 1/4 pounds Brussels sprouts
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 9 ounces pancetta, rind removed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • About 8 to 9 ounces vacuum-packed chestnuts
  • 2 fluid ounces Marsala wine
  • 1 large handful fresh parsley, chopped, divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Slice the bottoms off each of the Brussels sprouts, cutting a cross onto the base as you go. Place the Brussels sprouts into a large saucepan of salted boiling water. Cook the Brussels sprouts for 5 minutes, or until they are tender but still retain a bit of bite.

Remove the pan from the heat and drain the excess water from the Brussels sprouts.

Heat the oil in a large clean saucepan. Add the pancetta cubes to the pan and cook until they are crisp and golden-brown in color, but not cooked to the point of having dried out.

Add the butter and the chestnuts to the pancetta saucepan and with a wooden spoon or spatula, press down on them to break them up into pieces. Once the chestnuts have been warmed through, turn the heat up and add the Marsala to the pan. Cook until the mixture has reduced and thickened slightly.

Add the sprouts and half the parsley to the saucepan and mix well. Season the Brussels sprouts with freshly ground black pepper.

To serve, place the Brussels sprouts onto a warmed serving plate and sprinkle the remaining chopped parsley over the top.

(Serves 8 )


1 Response to "Brussels Sprouts, Christmas and Jesus"

Adding a little vinegar (bitterness of life?) brings out the flavor of the Brussel Sprout! I roast mine and then add some Balsamic Vinegar before serving, and lots of salt! thanks for sharing!

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