It’s been four days since Thanksgiving and I still have turkey in the refrigerator. I finished straining my turkey stock from the carcass last night and I’m about to have my last turkey sandwich for lunch today. Thanksgiving is over, but every year I always learn something new that I’m excited about. I make notes for next year’s feast, so that I can replicate the good things about the meal. This year’s find was our vegetable dish, thanks to Russ Parson’s Brussels sprouts braised with bacon and chestnuts recipe that was published in the Los Angeles Times last week.
I was afraid to serve Brussels sprouts at this meal, as certain family members had objected in the past, but this year I was going for it! I had some green beans to offer the naysayers. As it turned out, most everyone thought they were delicious and the fresh chestnuts were a fabulous addition.
I assembled my ingredients the day before, peeled the chestnuts and broke off the sprouts from the stalk, so they were ready to go the next day. I had never used chestnuts before, but with a nutcracker in hand I managed to get most of them open. Then I cooked them in water on medium heat for about ten minutes to get the brown skin off. Since I was going to be rough chopping them, it didn’t matter that they remain whole and pretty!
Then on T-Day, I had a stroke of brilliance! I had my turkey in the oven. I had been contemplating cloaking my turkey in bacon, as my blogger friend, Valentina of Cooking on the Weekends did. I decided to cloak my 20# turkey with six strips of bacon directly on the breast. I waited until the second hour of roasting the bird to add the bacon, which worked out perfectly. The breast was kept moist and my bacon was cooked to perfection. Turkey broth with the giblets and neck was simmering on the stove, so I used this in the Brussels sprouts as well as in the gravy.
Brussels Sprouts braised with Bacon and Chestnuts
- 1 cup peeled and coarsely chopped chestnuts (about 1/2 pound in shell)
- 1 stalk Brussels sprouts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
- 4-6 strips bacon
- 1 Tbs bacon fat or olive oil
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 cup turkey or chicken broth
- 1 1/2 tsp sherry vinegar
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Prepare chestnuts by shelling them with a nutcracker and/or cook them in water for about ten minutes to loosen the brown skin. I did this the night before T-Day.
2. Place bacon strips on turkey breast after turkey has roasted for about one hour.
3. Cut an X in the stem end of each Brussels sprout. Place sprouts in steamer basket with water below it in the pot. Bring to a boil and steam sprouts until tender – about 8 minutes. Remove to a bowl and chill until just before serving the dish.
4. About one hour prior to serving, melt bacon fat or olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add minced shallot and cook about 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the chestnuts and turkey broth to the pan, cover and simmer until chestnuts are tender and sweet – about 10 minutes.
5. When ready to serve, add vinegar and Brussels sprouts to skillet for about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (although it should be salty already from the bacon fat and chicken stock).