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An Italian Twist for a Thanksgiving Side Dish

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One of my favorite ways to cook Brussels sprouts is to cut them in quarters and saute them in a big skillet. This method brings out their nuttiness and nicely caramelizes the edges for extra flavor.

I like to keep the dish simple. Usually, I make some sort of variation on Ruth Lively’s recipe, Balsamic Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta (hint: it makes a delicious and easy Thanksgiving side).

I start by rendering some bacon (although pancetta or even prosciutto is good, too); then, I caramelize some chopped onions, and finally, cook the sprouts. What really turns the dish around for me is a generous splash of authentic Aceto Balsamico di Modena toward the end of cooking, instead of the regular balsamic vinegar used in the recipe. The real stuff is thicker, sweeter, more syrupy, and less tangy than its supermarket cousin. It sets off the sprouts’ slight bitterness and adds a rounded flavor that makes the dish sing.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: I’m not going to fork out nearly $100 for a puny little bottle of real balsamico to enhance my Brussels sprouts. But let me try to convince you:

  1. You only need a little bit, so the bottle lasts for a long time;
  2. You can use it in many other ways: on fresh figs, strawberries, drizzled on some other of your favorite cold-weather side dishes.

Not convinced? I have good news: you can substitute another Italian import, Vincotto (cooked grape must), for a fraction of the price.




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  • HeCooksForYou | 11/13/2009

    "authentic Aceto Balsamico di Modena" is the wrong term. You mean aceto balsamico tradizionale, or traditional balsamic vinegar - that's the kind that's made using a battery of aromatic wood barrels over 10-50 years, and sold in the tiny bottle with a silver or gold seal and a price upwards of $100. Balsamic vinegar of Modena is ordinary vinegar and that term is used on everything from $5 supermarket generic brands to $25 premium brands. And products termed "balsamic vinegar of Modena" need not come from Modena, and almost never do.

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