This week, I’ve been mostly eating more Christmas menu try-outs. The goal is to produce a new menu with a new twist here and here, while still honouring the tradition of Brussels Sprouts and Christmas Pudding. You’ll see it online this Friday.
For those who can’t wait, here’s how I plan to smuggle Brussels Sprouts into the 2009 Christmas menu:
Christmas Fettuccini Carbonara with smoked salmon and Brussels Sprouts.
This is fit for all year round, and absolutely delicious, so bear with me…
Per person, get five Brussels sprouts and two rashers of good bacon. Cut the bacon into fine strips, and flake the sprouts into individual leaves. Set aside.
Replace the Brussel sprouts with fine strips of Cavolo Nero if you don’t like the former and can source the latter. In the UK, try Waitrose, the only regular supplier for Cavolo Nero known to me. Now…
Per person, take one fresh egg yolk, one tablespoon of sour cream, a teaspoon of mustard, a good pinch of hot mustard powder, a pinch of black pepper and a good pinch of freshly grated nutmeg. Add one more yolk for the entire party. (Normally, you’d use cream or even double cream. I find soured cream is a better choice; it produces the same creamy result without that Oh-it’s-a-little-too-rich feeling that you get from double cream.)
Whisk it all up and set aside.
Take a good portion of smoked salmon and cut into thin stripes. For this meal, I prefer very strongly flavoured peat-smoked salmon.
Get some good quality egg fettuccini and cook them al dente.
Meanwhile, cut three or four cherry tomatoes per person into halves.
Fry the bacon sharp, using a knob of butter and an equal amount of olive oil until golden. (The olive oil raises the melting point of the butter, allowing to work longer and hotter without browning too much. You could also clarify the butter, of course, but for the quick day-in-day-out cooking, adding olive oil works well enough.)
The fettuccini should be done by now. Drain, and put into a bowl.
Add the Brussels sprout leaves to the bacon, crank up the heat and stir frequently in order to fry the sprouts quickly over 3 minutes or so.
Pour the egg-cream mix over the pasta. Mix in the salmon and the tomatoes. (Remember: the key to Carbonara is not to confuse it with scrambled eggs. Do not let the eggs into the pan or pot; just mix them in the bowl with the still hot pasta.)
Serve the pasta on a plate, surrounded by sprouts and bacon. Add some slivers of parmesan, and grate some nutmeg over the whole thing (the final nutmeg is important, don’t forget it! I forgot it with my second helping, and it makes heck of a difference).
Sprouts like you never had them before.
Carbonara like you never ate it before.