I love Ina Garten.
If there’s one chef I’d be so lucky to have dinner with it would be the Barefoot Contessa herself (and Jamie Oliver, of course).
You think they’d get along?
Seriously though, every one of her recipes are meticulously tested, they taste amazing, and I can tell you personally she’s the nicest (and I mean the nicest) person ever. My cousin makes a version of her meatballs and they are so, so good. I think it’s the nutmeg…
I could eat a whole bag/stalk of brussels sprouts.
However they come, there’s just something about their slightly nutty, almost bitter flavor that turns me into a complete addict. I know not everyone is a fan of sprouts, but Ina’s super easy and flavorful recipe will most likely change your mind.
Ina halves the sprouts first and then coats them generously with olive oil. She also includes any stray leaves onto the sheet pan. And I’ll tell you why- they get all nice and crispy once baked and the flavor reminds me of potato chips! But so much better!
The sprouts are roasted with pancetta ( I used salami here) and then drizzled with thick balsamic syrup to finish. It’s the perfect balance of salty/sweet/bitter flavors.
Now, let’s talk about that balsamic syrup for a second…
First, I had to edit my FACE out of the pan you see above. I almost didn’t catch the reflection! That would’ve been a sight (stop looking at the pan!).
Second, there are a few different ways you can get your hands on some balsamic syrup:
- You can buy aged balsamic which is a nice, luxurious, syrupy vinegar that’s super expensive. Like, $90/ bottle expensive.
- You can buy a bottle of balsamic syrup itself at the store. It’s not easy to find but I know Trader Joe’s & Whole Foods carries it.
- You can also make your own, which is what I did. It’s super easy. BUT! I burnt it the first time around because it reduced so quickly it basically turned into TAR and the whole kitchen stunk like burnt vinegar which is one of the worst smells on the planet. My poor eyes.
To make your own syrup, just add some balsamic vinegar to a small sauté pan with a little sugar. Reduce the mixture on medium-low heat; it will only take 1-2 minutes. If you dare walk away, say to check your phone or answer the door, I promise you will pay the consequences!
*Pro tip: If your sauce is reduced, but you’re still waiting around for the sprouts to finish roasting, it might harden slightly if your kitchen is cold. This is what happened to me. All you have to do is warm it over LOW heat with a tiny splash of water. Stir continuously until the texture loosens up.
See? Check it out! Crispy bits! Yum!
You absolutely need this recipe in your life right now. For the holidays. Thanksgiving. Flag day. Earth day. WHATEVER. I promise, this one will be a hit!
Ina says so.
Tips: Don’t over crowd your sheet pan; the sprouts won’t crisp at all. Work in batches if you have to.
Substitutions: For my veggie and vegan friends, you are more than welcome to leave out the pancetta or salami; it will taste just as good. My friend Amisha puts pomegranate seeds and walnuts in hers.
Make-Ahead: if you’re making this for a dinner party, I would suggest trimming the ends and halving the sprouts one day in advance. Store everything in a ziplock bag (beware: it will stink the next day when you open it up!). Then all you have to do is roast the sprouts the next day. Easy.
For the pancetta, you can buy it already chopped, which is nice. I used salami because that’s what I had in my cheese drawer, which is also nice. Again, you can pre-chop whatever you’re using the day before.
For the balsamic syrup, I wouldn’t reduce it in advance. Make it fresh, unless you’re using syrup from the bottle.
- 1½ pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed & halved, leaves reserved
- 4 oz pancetta, cut into ¼-inch pieces (I used 2 oz hard salami)
- 2 tbsp- ¼ cup olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 tbsp reduced balsamic syrup, or make your own (see note below)
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
- Preheat your oven to 400 F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- Add the sprouts and the reserved leaves to the sheet pan. Add the pancetta (or salami). Coat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Roast for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally for even browning.
- Towards the end of cooking, prepare the balsamic syrup. Pour the vinegar into a small sauté pan and sprinkle with sugar. Reduce the mixture over medium-low heat; it will only take 1-2 minutes. Keep your eye on it so it doesn't burn! You should end up with 1 tbsp of reduced syrup.
- When the sprouts are ready, drizzle the hot balsamic syrup directly over the pan. Toss well to combine.
- Serve right away.