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Sprouts with pancetta and chestnuts recipe

by Alex Mugan on July 31, 2021

What a shame that we only really eat the marvellous sprouts with pancetta and chestnuts combo around Christmas. The combination would bring a roast pork dish to life at any time when sprouts are growing, or make the basis for a delicious, warming pasta or gnocchi number.

But of course, Christmas is when we typically bring together brussel sprouts with pancetta, aiming to add a meaty, salty bite to the sulphurous sprout, and sweetening the whole thing with the roasted chestnuts. For that reason, this recipe is a rich, jubilant celebration of the green, the brown and the pigly.

In the version below, we’ve made onion and garlic optional. Some people like their Christmas flavours unadulterated, so decide for yourself whether onion belongs only in stuffing, and if garlic is invited to Christmas lunch/dinner.

The recipe

Serves 6 as a Christmas side


  • 1kg of Sprouts, peeled and halved
  • 200g of Cooked chestnuts
  • 200g Pancetta, in lardons or rashers cut into strips
  • 60ml Madeira (Bual/Boal ideally, but it would work with Malmsey or Verdelho)
  • 4 x Thyme sprigs
  • 1 x Garlic clove
  • ½ an Onion
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Black pepper


  1. Peel the sprouts and halve them (the more surface area, the more lovely caramelisation on the sprouts).
  2. Put the sprouts in a pan of boiling, salted water and blanche for 3 minutes. Refresh them in cold water once drained.
  3. In a frying pan over a medium heat, fry the pancetta in a little olive oil until it’s half way to crispy. If you’re using the onion and/or garlic, add the onion now and fry until translucent.
  4. Add the chestnuts, sprouts, thyme and garlic (if using) and continue to fry until everything is caramelised (about 5-6 minutes).
  5. Add in the madeira and reduce by two thirds at a simmer.
  6. Season to taste and serve up. Ho ho ho.

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