While in Mexico City, I'm enjoying some of my old favorites (which always includes tacos) and always discovering new flavors. While at Mercado Medellín I as waking by the butcher and discovered a pork product that's new to me. It's called chicharron prensado. It's different pieces of pork meat and fat that is mixed with guajllo chiles and some other spices. The meat is then pressed into a giant cylinder. It basically looks like a giant piece of salami that is a foot and a half in diameter. Then when it's cut, it shaves off into pretty little chunks of a deep red color.
Since I was having dinner with the "gringas", we decided to make the American classic of baked mac'n'cheese. But we needed a vegetable side. Even though we would have been fine with an overload of four cheeses.
I decided to make an adaptation of a roasted brussel sprouts recipe that I make often. Instead of bacon though, I used the delicious chicharron prensado.
Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Chicharron Prensado Recipe
12 brussel sprouts (medium size, cut in half from pole to pole)
1/2 cup Chicharron Prensado (or more if you like pork as much as I do)
4-5 cloves of garlic chopped fine
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use a small baking dish and pour half the oil in the dish so that the bottom if well coated and there is a nice layer of olive oil. Toss the brussel sprouts with the rest of the oil so that they are well coated (I do this all in the same dish). Make sure the flat side of the brussel sprouts are face down in the pan. Squeeze over the juice of one lemon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add garlic and chicharron prensado over the top. I add this last so that the sprouts can be well salted themselves.
Place in preheated oven on middle rack and bake 25-30 minutes until sprouts are fork tender through the middle. When ready, give a quick blast under the broiler for 2-3 minutes. When they start to brown they are done. Watch closely during this step so that the small bits of garlic don't burn.
Serve as a side. In this case, with Mac'n'cheese.
Note: you can substitute bacon instead of the chicharron. If you do you won't need as much salt because it's salty already. The chicharron isn't too salty, just full of flavor!