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I know that there are plenty of dedicated Brussels Sprouts haters out there. I can see you, curling your lip and shuddering.
But – don’t go yet! If you are haunted by childhood memories of slimy little grey-green orbs of mushy sprouts – stay right here, and hear what I say – you have been mistreated by whoever tried to get you to eat them. Those Brussels sprouts? Those were your Mama’s Brussels sprouts! Today, we are going to cook fresh Brussels sprouts and there is simply no comparison at all. It’s not like comparing apples to oranges – it’s like comparing apples to … well, something really gross.
So, set aside your judgements and prepare to be amazed. You might even be amazed if already like Brussels sprouts, because [hello! bacon?] these are so SO good.
Here is the wonderful thing about Brussels sprouts – they have, it seems, arrived! Even 10 years ago, unless you grew them yourself, you could barely find a fresh Brussels sprout to save your life. That, my friends has completely changed – every supermarket now has them just about all winter. Sam’s Club and Costco sell them in huge bags. And of course they are available at the Farmer’s Market, assuming there is still one running in your area, once the weather turns colder.
They aren’t terribly difficult to grow, though they are subject to the same insect damage that all brasicas are – flea beetles, little chompy green worms, etc. We have a bumper crop this year, and as they get sweeter and tastier once the weather gets cold, they are still in the garden, and will be for another couple weeks unless it gets really cold. They will keep in cold storage for a month or so, and we plan to enjoy them well into December. And, after that I expect that I buy them, because they are one of our favorites, and this recipe is no little reason why.
Because when you roast a fresh Brussels sprout, something magical happens – they get sweeter, even earthier and tender without being at all mushy. They get all caramelized and even a bit crunchy on the outside, while staying green and succulent on the inside. And then – you add bacon to the mix! And a tasty, concentrated vinaigrette. And happiness.
Brussels Sprouts with Peppered Bacon
- 3/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 large garlic clove
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves [1/4 teaspoon dried]
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 8-10 grinds fresh black pepper
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 4 slices thick cut peppered bacon
- 1 large onion peeled and cut in a very large dice
- 2 pound of Brussels sprouts cleaned and halved
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- In a small sauce pan, over medium heat, simmer the red wine vinegar, until it reduces to about 1/4 cup, and cool slightly.
- Use a microplane grater to grate the garlic clove into a small, deep bowl.
- Add the salt, pepper, thyme leaves and vinegar, and whisk until the salt is dissolved.
- Slowly whisk in the olive oil until you have a nicely emulsified mixture. Set aside at room temperature. This can be done several hours ahead.
- Cut the bacon into 1 inch long pieces, and place in a cold saute pan.
- Saute the bacon over medium heat for about 5 minutes - until it starts to render a good amount of fat.
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven 425º
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon from the rendered drippings to the baking sheet. Reserve the drippings.
- Add the cut up onion and the prepared sprouts to the sheet pan, and stir to combine. Sprinkle with the salt, and some fresh pepper if you like. Drizzle with a couple tablespoons of the reserved bacon drippings.
- Spread everything evenly in the pan, taking care to place the sprouts cut side down, so that they have a chance to get nicely browned.
- Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, taking them out half way through to stir things up a bit and make sure nothing is burning. They are done when the onions are well cooked, and the sprouts are browned and no longer firm. If you aren't sure, taste one to see if they are as done as you like, and roast a bit more if they aren't.
- Remove to a shallow serving bowl, stir up the vinaigrette a bit, and spoon evenly over the vegetables and bacon. You may have some vinaigrette left over, which can be stored in the fridge. Serve warm, refrigerate leftovers.
This also delicious at room temperature for lunch the next day, should you be fortunate enough to have any left over. And no more will you have shuddering flashbacks of mushy sprouts – I promise these will wipe those bad recollections away forever, and replaced by cravings!