Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Brussels sprouts were certainly not a vegetable I grew up on. I'm sure my parents either didn't like them, didn't know how to cook them, or just figured they were a lost cause with three picky-eater sons. When I was little, I thought they looked and sounded like one of those foods old people ate, but secretly didn't enjoy (like they were forced to eat them during the Depression and continued to eat them out of mere stubbornness). In a way, they're one of those foods people are almost expected to dislike. With all this Brussels sprout pessimism, it's no wonder they get a bad wrap. In fact, the other day while I was buying my Brussels sprouts at the farmer's market, a grown man walked by and exclaimed, "Brussels sprouts, yuck!" 

Even after cooking these budding green sprouts in my adulthood, I really didn't find them too exciting. However, I continued to cook them in a variety of ways, determined to discover which method worked best. I've found roasting them does all the work for you and brings out their natural sweetness.  

Admittedly, anything roasted in bacon fat will taste good, but even roasted by themselves, these sprouts taste great. They have crisp outer leaves with soft and sweet centers. There's a lovely balance of salt from the bacon and their natural sweetness from roasting. If you dislike Brussels sprouts, give these a try and I can almost guarantee you'll never look back.


3 tbsp. olive oil
8 oz. thick cut bacon (about 12 slices)
3 shallots, sliced
1½ lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and larger ones halved
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large cast iron skillet. Add the bacon and cook until crisp. Transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate to cool (once cooled, break bacon into large pieces). Add the shallots to the same pan and cook just until soft, but not browned. Turn off the heat, add the Brussels sprouts and toss well to evenly coat in oil and bacon drippings. Season generously with salt and pepper. 

Transfer skillet to oven and roast until the Brussels sprouts are beautifully browned and slightly crisp, about 25 to 30 minutes (toss the Brussels sprouts a couple of times while roasting to prevent sticking). Remove from oven, add bacon to the pan, toss and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve immediately.  

Yield: 6 servings

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