I know, I know, you’ve had Brussels sprouts and you don’t like them, right? They are possibly the world’s most reviled vegetable, but I think they have gotten a bad rap. I have served Brussels sprouts to several people who claimed that they didn’t like them, but happily asked for seconds when I made them this way. My kids gobble them up as well! And really, what kid do you know that actually likes Brussels sprouts?
Brussels sprouts were not part of my upbringing, but at some point I eventually had them…and I thought they tasted (and looked) like little cabbages. While I wasn’t enthralled with them as I have been with other vegetables, I didn’t severely dislike them either, and when I saw how beautiful they look growing on the stalk, I decided to give them a try. Now, they are one of the vegetables that makes a regular appearance at our table, and they are best when roasted or cooked with bacon and shallots. The key to good Brussels sprouts is not to overcook them.
I created my recipe for Brussels Sprouts with Bacon after seeing this one in Food and Wine which looked a bit complicated and had fancy ingredients that I had never cooked with before (pancetta? shallots?). I simplified the ingredient list and streamlined the cooking a bit, but it still takes some time to do right. It is worth every minute, though. Promise.
Whether you buy them on the stalk or already removed, try to choose sprouts that are about the same size (and will therefore cook more evenly). I prefer those on the smaller side; I think they look prettier, and they cook a bit faster. Shallots are a cousin of the onion, but with a more delicate flavor and give a hint of sweetness that compliments the strong-tasting Brussels sprouts and the salty bacon.
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon pairs nicely with pork chops or a pork roast, but it is also a nice side dish for a good steak. I often eat the leftovers with a side of eggs–yum!
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
- 1 Brussels sprouts stalk, or 1-2 lbs. loose sprouts
- 3-4 slices of bacon, cut into 1/4 inch pieces (any kind is find, but I would avoid the peppered since it has a particularly strong flavor)
- 6 shallots, thinly sliced
- extra bacon fat saved from previous bacon frying and stored in the refrigerator (ideal) or other cooking fat (duck fat, expeller-pressed coconut oil, lard, etc.)
- Remove Brussels sprouts from stalk and rinse them well. Then steam them or parboil them until they are bright green. DO NOT OVERCOOK!You want them slightly undercooked, but no longer crunchy. When they are done cooking, drain them and slice them in half lengthwise.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the bacon pieces over medium-low heat to allow some of the fat to render out. Continue cooking the bacon until it is as crispy as you like to eat it.
- Add the shallots to the bacon and cook on medium-low heat until they are soft and beginning to caramelize, but not brown. When shallots are finished cooking, scoop out shallots and bacon into a bowl, leaving as much of the bacon fat in the skillet as you can.
- Turn the heat to medium-high and add more bacon fat if needed to coat the bottom of the pan. Working in batches (or in multiple pans) add the Brussels sprouts, cut side down, to the hot bacon fat and cook until they are browned and tender, but not mushy (5-10 minutes).
- When all of the Brussels sprouts have been cooked, put them all back in the pan with the bacon and shallot mixture, and toss to combine.