You probably hated eating Brussels sprouts when you were a kid. Same here. They were stinky and spongy and tasted pretty much what we imagined plant poop might taste like. And, according to any number of “Least Favorite Veggie” polls, we cling to this opinion as adults; Brussels always make the top five, at least.
Of course, that’s because they are never cooked right.
Well, we’re here to fix that. Once you try this dish, you’re not even going to believe these crispy little crucifers are even the same vegetable. And no, it’s not just the bacon that’s rescuing them (though we’re hard pressed to think of many things bacon doesn’t make better.) The caramelized texture on the outside with a little al dente bite of the bud itself make for a side dish that just might eclipse whatever main you’re serving.
We could add something here, too, about all the lovely Vitamin C, K and folic acid you’ll be getting by eating these guys, or tout the anti-oxidizing, anti-inflammatory and even anti-cancerous benefits that have been researched on these bite-sized little buds, but let’s be honest: it’s the flavor of this dish that’s going to bring you back, time and again. Just know, somewhere in the back of your mind: your body loves them.
Now your mouth will, too.
(And, please, if you have kids, stop punishing them with the plant poop version and make them this instead, and watch as they are converted to Brussels-lovers for life!)
Caramelized Brussels with Bacon
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Makes 4 sizable servings
- 1.5 Lbs. Brussels Sprouts, washed, trimmed, cut in half (approx. 6 Cups cut)
- 6 oz. Thick-cut bacon (all natural, nitrate & BS free), sliced in 1/2″ strips
- 2 Medium Shallots
- First, slice Brussels in half. The whole trick to this recipe is getting the Brussels all cut-side down in a single layer in the pan. So after you cut your Brussels, pull out your skillet, figure out how many cups you can put in at a time and determine how many batches you will need to do. Trust us, it’s much easier to do this now without boiling hot bacon grease in the pan!
- Slice bacon in 1/2″ strips. While a large skillet is preheating on the stove at medium, separate bacon the pieces of bacon so they aren’t stuck together.
- When skillet is hot, add in bacon and stir to continue separating the pieces. Get bacon into one layer and stir occasionally to make sure bacon cooks evenly, 4-5 minutes.
- When bacon is beginning to get golden brown, but not fully done, add in shallots and turn heat up to medium high. Stir regularly to keep shallots from overcooking, 3-4 minutes.
- When shallots are soft and caramelized, remove from heat. Tilt pan and scrap the bacon and shallots to the top of the pan, allowing the bacon grease to drain away. (Prop your pan up on a lid or cool burner if you need an extra hand.) Scoop bacon/shallots into a large glass or metal bowl and set aside.
- Drain off and reserve bacon grease proportional to the number of batches you will be doing (e.g., 1/2 for 2 batches… 2/3 for 3 batches, etc.)
- Return skillet to burner on medium high, and add first batch of Brussels. Stir to coat, then, using 2 utensils (I use a fork and wooden spoon), turn all Brussels cut-side down.
- Allow to cook untouched 3 minutes, and turn one over in the center of the skillet to check caramelization progress. Flip it back down if not done and check in another minute.
- When you have a golden brown and crispy Brussels, stir the whole pan. Stir occasionally for the next 4-5 minutes until the Brussels are crisp out and al dente in. Remove cooked Brussels to same bowl as the bacon/shallots. (Under cooking the first batches slightly, as they will continue to cook during the next batch!)
- Add reserved bacon grease and repeat until all batches are done. Return everything to the pan, stir to mix and reheat. Serve immediately.
1) To repeat, the whole trick is all Brussels cut-side down in one layer!!! They can’t caramelize if they aren’t touching the pan!!!
2) If you are in a rush, you can skip cutting the bacon while raw. Fry the bacon whole, remove from pan. Cook shallots in the grease. Cut bacon into strips when cooled. However, we find that the bacon renders so much more fat when pre-cut (we’d love for someone to explain the science on that one!), so you may need to have a little extra bacon grease (or butter) handy finish off all your batches.