SPROUTS WITH JUNIPER BERRIES + PANCETTA
The rich saltiness of the pork, the spice of the chilli and the fresh coniferous notes that juniper brings to the sprouts make this a seasonal delight.
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, halved lengthways
50g thinly sliced pancetta (about 6 slices)
450g medium sprouts, outer leaves removed, bases trimmed, halved lengthways
1 tsp flaky salt
3 dried pequin chillies or a pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
2 juniper berries, smashed and finely chopped
1½ tsp thyme leaves, chopped
½ a lemon
1 Pour 3 tbsp of the olive oil into a large pan and set it over a high heat. When you see the oil ripple, add the garlic, give the pan a shake and watch it sizzle, turning each piece over after 30 seconds or so. Fry until golden brown on both sides. Retrieve the garlic cloves from the pan, and set aside on your chopping board.
2 Lower the heat to medium and add half the pancetta to the pan. Once the rashers have shrunk a little, add the rest, shifting the first batch so they all have equal space in the bottom of the pan. Cook, turning once or twice, until golden brown at the edges and just threatening to crisp; about 3 minutes. Transfer the rashers to paper towels to drain.
3 Fry the sprouts in the pan in one layer, cut sides down. Use tongs to peek underneath them occasionally to make sure they’re getting coloured. Once the bottoms are a nice dark golden brown, turn the sprouts over and keep cooking until they’re as crunchy or soft as you’d like; 8-12 minutes in all.
4 Sprinkle with the salt and chillies, if using, crushing them between your fingers as you go, then add the juniper and toss in the reserved garlic cloves. Toss it all together and take the pan off the heat. Sprinkle in the thyme, add a good squeeze of lemon (you want a bit of brightness, not tartness) and drizzle on about 1 tbsp of olive oil. Tear the pancetta slices in half and toss them with the sprouts. Have a taste and add more salt, lemon or oil, if needed. Leave to cool for a few minutes and serve warm, not hot.
From April Bloomfield, A Girl and Her Pig via The Guardian