Brussels Sprouts with Bacon in a Balsamic Glaze

As seasonal eaters, one of our favorite fall/winter veggies is Brussels sprouts. In past decades, these small green veggies have been much maligned. Common preparation was usually to boil or steam them to death, resulting in unappetizing, stinky mush. But when these sprouts are prepared properly, they can be as delicious as they are nutritious!

The first adjustment is to pan-fry them first. Place them on a hot skillet, cut-side down, and let that flat end get nice and brown. That Maillard reaction creates a brown, crunchy edge that totally changes the flavor profile. Then, you add Brussels sprouts’ best friend, BACON! (Pancetta works great, as well.) The salty fat of the meat coats each veggie piece with bacon-y goodness. If you’re not convinced yet, the next step is to toss it all in a buttery balsamic reduction. The sweet/sharp acid balances the salt of the bacon, and these become downright addictive!

If your only experience with Brussels sprouts has been tasteless and sad, I implore you to give this recipe a try before you write them off for good. It has converted many previous haters!

Brussel sprouts

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon in a Balsamic Glaze
(Original recipe: Tiffani Thiessen)

4 strips of your favorite type of bacon
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
10 oz Brussels sprouts (about 18 medium sprouts), trimmed and cut in half
1/2 C water
1/4 C balsamic vinegar
2 TBSP butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Fry the bacon until golden and crisp. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels, leaving the drippings in the pan. You should have about 2 tablespoons of drippings left in the pan; if not, add the olive oil.

Arrange the sprouts cut-side down in a single layer on the pan. Cook until nicely browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the water to the pan, cover immediately, and simmer until the sprouts are bright green and tender when poked with a fork or skewer, about 3 minutes. (If the water evaporates before the sprouts become tender, add more water, 1/4 cup at a time.) Transfer the sprouts to a plate with a slotted spoon.

Return the pan to medium-high heat. (It is fine if any water remains; it will boil off with the vinegar.) Add the vinegar and boil it about 2 minutes, until it becomes slightly syrupy and reduced to about 2 tablespoons.

Reduce the heat to low, add the butter, and stir until melted. Return the sprouts and bacon to the pan, and toss everything to evenly coat with the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

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