Friday, November 22, 2013

How not to hate Brussels Sprouts

I always hated Brussels sprouts, mostly because of the way they smell when they cook. They have this acrid, malodorous scent that I find simply disgusting.  Then one day, my sister tells me she roasts them and that parboiling them for a few minutes beforehand in boiling water helps with that nasty smell. Since I love anything roasted I tried it last year and made them for Thanksgiving. They were pretty good and since then I’ve made Brussels sprouts from time to time trying to love them. But it wasn’t until I tried them from a food truck that I thought, wow, these are incredible!

Nearly every Thursday, a food truck comes to my office building during lunch. Being a foodie, I usually go online and check the menu of the truck in question. Usually it's the usual, tacos and burgers, so I pass, but one day I saw this dish, Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, and thought, mmhhhh, that sounds pretty good. I mean, really. Bacon makes everything better, so how bad could this be, even if it WAS Brussels sprouts? A co-worker ordered it and let me taste it and it was unbelievable, although the drizzle on top was a little too sweet for my taste. 

Since then I’ve been trying to get my hands on a recipe that comes even remotely close to duplicating the complexity of this fabulous creation. No go. Everyone’s recipe for Brussels sprouts with bacon simply reads, “Brussels Sprouts, bacon, salt and pepper.” You’re kidding, right? And this from celebrity chefs you’d really expect more from.  Other recipes add just the weirdest ingredients.
Realizing I was on my own, I got out a book of mine called the “Flavor Bible” and looked up Brussels sprouts. Under the heading, a list of all the flavors that go well with Brussels sprouts. I wrote down the ingredients I thought would marry well and went into the kitchen.

What resulted from this creative process was a dish that I not only went back for seconds for, I went back for THIRDS!! I was stuffed!  It was all I wanted for dinner that night. “To die for” good, it was. I am planning on bringing it with me to Thanksgiving. I hope the family likes it, too.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, etc.

1 stalk Brussels sprouts, cut larger ones in quarters,
smaller ones in half, tiny ones you can leave whole
1 pound bacon, cut into lardons (little
bite-size strips, see photo, right)
1 red onion, sliced into thin slices
Leaves from several sprigs of fresh thyme
(I use lemon thyme from my garden)
1 basket mushrooms, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup hazelnuts, cut in half
Salt and pepper to taste
Honey mustard thinned out with a little mayo

Bring a pot of water to a boil and drop in the Brussels sprouts. Cook for about 5-8 minutes. They should be slightly undercooked since they will continue cooking later. Drain.

Heat a large non-stick sauté pan and when hot, add bacon pieces. Brown for 5-8 minutes. Add onion slices and brown. Add thyme leaves. Add Brussels sprouts and brown those as well. Add mushrooms and sauté for about 5 minutes.

Now you can add the remaining ingredients in rapid succession, since all you need to do is basically heat them (the garlic and hazelnuts). Cover and allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes until everything is hot. Add salt and pepper and give it another good stir.

Meanwhile, blend a little honey mustard with a little mayo. If you have a squeeze bottle, put it in there.

Dish up a generous serving (trust me, you’ll want seconds, so just put enough on your plate now) and before serving, drizzle a little bit of the mustard/mayo sauce over the mound. Nice alongside roasted chicken. Or do like I did and forget the chicken - just eat seconds, or (ahem) thirds, of this. YUM!

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