Today I’m going to change the way you feel about brussels sprouts. I, like most of you, would never have willingly picked brussels sprouts as a go-to side dish. My mom used to make brussels sprouts by boiling them in a little sprite, and while this definitely curbed their characteristic bitterness, I’m really not a big fan of sweet flavors. I prefer my chocolate bittersweet, my wines heavy (for reds) or acidic and mineral (for whites), and my vegetables savory and sautéed… this is one reason you’ll probably never see me post a recipe where carrots are the star component. I usually try to make my vegetables pretty healthy, too… but not this time! I figure brussels sprouts are healthy enough to allow a little guilty indulgence.
Warning: this post is chock-full of dirty, sexy food porn.
Bacony Brussels Sprouts!
1 lb. brussels sprouts (or however much is in 1 package)
4 slices of bacon
2 large or 3 medium/small shallots (or 2 cloves of garlic and 1 large onion)
1 c. chicken broth (room temperature)
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Heat a sautoir (fancy name for a high-sided pan with a lid – say it with me, soh-twahhh) over med-high heat. If you don’t have one of those, you can also make this in a higher sided sautée pan or pot. Just make sure it has a lid -amusing anecdote about that to come – and enough surface area to allow all the brussels sprouts to come in contact with the bottom without piling up on each other.
Take your chicken broth out of the fridge if it’s cold and let it start warming up. While the pan’s heating up, rinse off the brussels sprouts and cut off their stems. Halve the larger ones so they are all roughly the same size for even cooking.
At this point the pan is probably hot, so throw those slices of bacon in there. You want the bacon to get pretty crispy so don’t worry about watching it too closely.
While it’s sizzling away, chop up the shallots. If you have a hard time finding shallots or don’t want to make a trip to the store just for a purple garlic-y onion, a mix of garlic and regular onion works too.
———–food for thought – scroll down for the rest of the recipe———–
I’m just learning some more “chef-like” knife skills, so I’ll share some tips I’ve learned for chopping onions/shallots. I don’t claim to be a trained chef by any means, and I’m pretty sure there are fancier ways to chop an onion – this is a more fool-proof method. I assume if you’re reading this blog you’re a less trained cook and not Bobby Flay – and if you are, I LOVE YOU.
I leave one of the ends on so that the onion doesn’t slip all over while cutting it. Not cordon bleu material, but hey, it works. I promise I’ll get better at taking pictures to explain! Next time I get an onion I’ll take some pictures and update this post. For now, words will have to do…
The shallots I bought for this recipe were pretty big, so this technique worked well. If the ones you have are tiny, just peel and chop them however you’d like – its not worth losing a finger over. Anyway, cut the onion in half lengthwise (so that you’re cutting through both ends). Take one of the halves and cut off just one end and peel off the skin – it’s alright if you can’t get the skin completely off at the other end since that will just get chopped off and tossed in a minute. Place the flat side of the onion down on the cutting board and, with your palm pressed on the rounded top, slice through it in half lengthwise, blade of the knife facing the onion’s end, ALMOST all the way to that hairy nubbin. Then, holding the onion by its “hairy” end, slice perpendicularly (with your knife’s tip pointing toward the hairy nubbin) to make strips. Finally, make another perpendicular cut, this time with the blade of your knife cutting toward the board. Cut as closely to the end as you can get and then throw it away. You should now have a diced onion! Just repeat with the other half.
——————-aannnd back to the recipe——————-
After that digression I bet your bacon is crispy! That’s exactly how we want it. At breakfast, I like eating my bacon a little on the underdone side, but for this recipe you want the crunch and even some of that smokiness that the blackened edges will give you. Texture is everything!
Move the bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Add the olive oil to the bacon grease in your pan. If you notice the pan is a little too hot, turn it down to medium so that you don’t burn the shallots. Throw in your chopped shallots (or garlic and onion – if you’re using garlic you definitely want to make sure the pan isn’t too hot or it will get bitter) and stir them around a bit. Let them cook up until they start to turn a little translucent.
Then, add the brussels sprouts. Stir to coat in the oil and let sautée about 2-5 minutes. Your goal here is to get the outsides a little browned and a TINY bit crisped, but not to cook the sprouts to hell and gone. Higher heat is your friend here. No one likes a mushy vegetable.
Once the brussels sprouts start to turn brighter green and get a little browned, pour in the chicken broth. Let it come to a boil and then lower the heat down to a simmer. Cover and let simmer anywhere from 8-11 minutes. Remember how I said you needed a lid for this recipe? Yeah, well, I didn’t have one that fit the pan I was using, so I improvised. No meal is complete without at least one “oh crap” moment. This recipe doesn’t require a tight-fitting lid anyway.
I like my vegetables to have some bite to them, so when you pierce one of the bigger sprouts and are met with just a little resistance they’re good to go. If you cook them too much they’ll lose some of their nutritional value, and you need something to rid you of bacon-guilt, right?
Remove to a serving dish with a slotted spoon and crumble the bacon on top. These reheat well, too, but you won’t have any leftovers. Trust me.
Being a side dish, I’m not going to suggest a wine to pair with it per se… But the last thing I need is an excuse to talk about or drink wine. Since there’s bacon in this, you want a more robust red to stand up to it. I served this with my pan-seared chicken breast, so I didn’t want to go too heavy with the red. I already posted what to pair with that, though, so for the sake of wine education I’ll pretend you’re serving this with steak or something and look to one of my favorite red wine regions: Argentina!
The Diseño Malbec at $11 a bottle is a steal and wonderful to drink, with or without food. Then again, I think that about pretty much every wine. Nose: leather, cherry and heavy chocolate/cocoa; Mouth: warmth (a wino’s secret word for higher alcohol content), black pepper, and a balanced acidity. The fruit in this one is all in the nose, so don’t be put off by the smell if you’re not a fruity wine lover.