A quick sauté of sprouts with bacon and shallots makes for a quick and flavorful side dish. Learn how to make Brussels sprouts good.
Perhaps when you were a child, your mom served these baby cabbage-like guys once in awhile. From a box. From the freezer section. Sometimes with cheese.
Maybe you were a fan. But, probably not.
There’s a reason why folks give Brussels sprouts the side eye. They’ve been done wrong.
I totally understand.
About 12 years ago one of my children requested Brussels sprouts. I can’t even remember where he had ever heard of them because they were not something Bryan and I would have ever talked about. We were not fans.
But who am I to deprive a child of sprouts? Really.
On a whim I bought a box to cook that night for dinner. From a box. From the freezer section. I was so proud of my boy for wanting to try something so new and foreign. And this boy was my pickiest eater at the time!
Needless to say, it was a train wreck.
No one cared for these hard, cabbagy clumps, and so we retired brussels sprouts from our kitchen.
Over the years, two close friends both insisted that fresh sprouts were entirely different. And I nodded and said okay. But, I was certainly not going to buy any.
But a produce co-op has a way of forcing itself — and unwanted vegetables — on you. 2012 was our year for expanding our horizons when we subscribed to a produce co-op.
And because I hate waste more than I hate any vegetable, I’ll at least try the weird thing in the box. And of course, one day there were Brussels sprouts.
Fresh. Not in a box from the freezer section.
My eldest child, a food adventurer, and I did some research on Brussels sprouts, busted out some bacon, and had a go at it. What resulted was a very pleasant surprise.
- Most of my kids tried them.
- Most of my kids like them. Even asking for seconds!
- Bacon proved itself once again as being able to make all things good.
This is a quick and easy recipe for brussels sprouts that could make a lover out of a hater. They are now a regular featured Thanksgiving recipe for our family.
Try ’em. You’ll like ’em.
Why are they called Brussels sprouts?
Brussels sprouts are a type of cabbage that was grown in the 1500s near Brussels. They got their name from their famous hometown.
How should you buy Brussels sprouts?
While most frozen vegetables are just as good as fresh, this is not the case when it comes to brussels sprouts. You need to buy fresh ones. You can find them in the produce department of the grocery store. They can be purchased on the stalk, in pre-measured bags, or in loose bins for you to choose from.
Choose small, brightly colored, green sprouts with compact leaves. Store unwashed sprouts in the refrigerator in an airtight plastic bag, for up to 3 days.
How do you trim Brussels sprouts?
Remove any damaged leaves and trim the stem end and remove any thick core. You can cook small sprouts whole, but they will have more surface for caramelizing if you thickly slice them or quarter them.
How do you cook Brussels sprouts so they are not bitter?
Sautéing or roasting brussels sprouts adds a caramelized flavor to them; something that boiling or steaming certainly cannot do. Add a pinch of brown sugar to help offset their natural bitterness and allow them to brown lightly.
How do you make Brussels sprouts good?
Bacon makes everything better, including brussels sprouts. In this recipe sautéing the thickly sliced sprouts in a bit of bacon fat and olive oil adds delicious flavor and helps the caramelization process. Add in some coarsely chopped bacon and shallots to further enhance this veggie.
What kitchen tools do you need for this recipe?
Having the right kitchen tools can really make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable. Over time, I’ve honed my collection so that they are perfect for my needs. Here are the tools that I like to use in this recipe.
- plastic cutting boards – I have blue boards for veggies and white boards for meat.
- Ergo Chef chef’s knife – I’ve had my set for several years and they work well.
- large skillet – I have two of these since I love this model so much.
- wooden spoon – This is great to avoid damaging the nonstick coating on your skillet.
- cooking tongs – I use these all the time for cooking in a skillet.
How do you make Brussels sprouts affordable?
Brussels sprouts are a fairly seasonal vegetable, showing their faces often near the holidays. Watch for sales. Last year, my Sprouts sold them originally for $4/stalk, but reduced this price to $1.50 a day or two before Thanksgiving. I’ve also found them reasonably priced at Costco and ALDI.
Bacon will, of course, be your pricier ingredient in this recipe. Again, watch for sales and stock up and freeze bacon at the best price. Since this recipe only uses 5 slices, you should be able to stretch your bacon purchase.
Can you use turkey bacon or vegan bacon?
Feel free to substitute whatever type of bacon you prefer. I use uncured bacon, but turkey bacon or vegan bacon will work. If you use a product that doesn’t produce much drippings, be sure to add another tablespoon of oil to compensate.
Do I have to use the bacon fat?
You do not have to use the bacon fat, but it adds a lot of flavor. Feel free to substitute another tablespoon of oil or butter if you are omitting the bacon drippings.
If you like, you can bake the bacon and add it at the end.
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Shallots
- 1 to 1 1/2 lb brussels sprouts
- 5 slices bacon
- 1 tbsp butter or ghee or olive oil
- 1 shallot finely chopped
- pinch brown sugar
- black pepper
- Peel the outer layer off the brussels sprouts, trim the ends and cut them in half. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove from the pan and chop coarsely.
- Remove all but 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings from the pan. Add butter and melt together.
- Saute the shallot in the pan and saute until starting to go clear.
- Add the brussels sprouts and continue to cook on medium-high heat, until tender and starting to brown, about three to five minutes. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Continue cooking for a few more minutes until the sprouts are tender, then add the chopped bacon and stir to combine. Adjust seasonings. Serve immediately.
- Feel free to substitute whatever type of bacon you prefer. I use uncured bacon, but turkey bacon or vegan bacon will work. If you use a product that doesn't produce much drippings, be sure to add another tablespoon of oil to compensate.
- Do I have to use the bacon fat? - You do not have to use the bacon fat, but it adds a lot of flavor. Feel free to substitute another tablespoon of oil or butter if you are omitting the bacon drippings.
- If you like, you can bake the bacon and add it at the end.