I hated brussels sprouts as a kid. My dad, who is one of the pickiest eaters I know, loves them. This makes zero sense to me. He won’t eat anything that even resembles a tomato (ketchup is out, and he uses only the barest amount of sauce on any pasta). He orders his filet mignon butterflied and well done. He won’t eat onions. The list goes on and on– but he loves brussels sprouts, plain, formerly frozen in one of those square Green Giant practices.
I am obviously adopted.
I decided that I needed to at least try cooking them a few years ago at Thanksgiving (I’m guessing this was around 2004, as I’m fairly sure I did this in my old house). They didn’t go over well. I used a Rachael Ray recipe that involved onions and bacon and it just didn’t work. They were hard, unpleasant miniature cabbages and I despised them. I was disappointed, as I thought bacon and onions could fix everything. In this case, I was very wrong.
A couple of years ago, I tried them again. I can’t recall which restaurant, but they roasted them until they were almost unrecognizable as brussels sprouts. They were sweet, tender and caramelized and I just couldn’t get enough. I was in love. I knew I had to try my hand at making them myself (again) when Courtney posted about Boca’s brussels sprouts. I didn’t have three hours (and decided that bacon was somehow healthier than butter) I searched around and found some brussels sprouts recipes and decided a couple of things:
1. My initial idea that bacon and onions make brussels sprouts better is spot-on.
2. Roasting is the way to go (This is true for many foods, actually).
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Onions (improved)
1 pound brussels sprouts
4-5 slices of bacon
1 small yellow or white onion, diced
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. While the oven is preheating, cut off the ends of the brussels sprouts, and slice them in half. Place in salted, boiling water for 8 minutes or until just tender. Drain well and spread in one layer in a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper and roast for 45 minutes. Halfway through, use a spatula to turn the brussels sprouts for even browning.
While the brussels sprouts roast, cut bacon into 1″ pieces and cook in a skillet until crisp (I use cast iron or anodized aluminum; just don’t use nonstick and you’ll be fine. A wok would work, too!). Remove cooked bacon to a separate plate, and drain off all of the fat except for about a tablespoon. Throw in diced onions and saute until soft and almost caramelized, about 10 minutes. When the brussels sprouts are finished roasting, carefully add them into the pan with the onions and add the bacon back to the pan. Saute until well combined (this takes just a minute or two). Resist the urge to eat them right out of the pan.