The most hated vegetable in the western world.
Just hearing those two small words sends shivers of disgust through children and adults alike. Just the thought of those leafy green veggies is enough to kill even the most voracious eaters appetites.
Because-and you’ll notice that this is a common theme in my food related posts-it probably was never made correctly.
There are many foods that are made incorrectly, simply because its so common to do things that way. And that is generally-at least in my experience-what leads people to believe that they just plain don’t like something.
When Mike and I first lived together we went through that period of getting to know each others quirks. So we were discussing our particular food likes and dislikes other we hadn’t covered up to that point in our relationship. He’s telling me about his weird thing with steaks (believe me, steaks will be a topic another week!) and then he busts out with “oh and I like brussel sprouts!”
Yeah. Needless to say, I had absolutely NO experience with this particular veggie so I just stared blankly at him. After my momentary brain fart autocorrected, I jumped into the task of finding a recipe. His only thoughts on the matter was that they were always cooked until they were “mushy and shit”. <—-direct quote there.
After a good look around the Internet, I gave up. A that point we were planning our wedding and I had started a new job and we were comfortable in our little food rut. So we sorta let the issue drop.
Fast forward about two years and I started culinary school. We were working with brussel sprouts one day and one of my classmates started taking the leaves off. Of course I questioned him since I knew this was one particular food that I’d had no luck with so far. So he went on to explain-and this made sense come he said it-that the reason brussel sprouts tend to be either undercooked or overcooked is because they are a fairly thick veggie. They’re in the cabbage family and thus each sprout has an inner core (as I like to think think of it) and then is covered in leaves upon leaves upon leaves. So when you peel the leaves off, not only do they cook up perfectly, but they take a fraction of the time.
Thus Mike’s Bacony Brussel Sprouts was created.
Like most of my recipes, there is no perfect formula. It’s basically Brussels sprouts sautéed in bacon grease. That’s it. Sooooooo easy.
I take usually around a pound of brussel sprouts and about 2-3 slices of bacon.
Don’t wash the brussel sprouts beforehand!!! Due to their unique design, I’ve found that dirt will work its way into the crevices between the leaves and then the leaves just get dirty all over again.
Slice the end off the sprout and pull off the leaves that you can, discarding any bruised leaves. Keep slicing off the ends when the leaves don’t pull off. You’ll eventually get to the very very light green inner leaves and core. Once you get there, you can choose to get the remaining leaves or give up. Repeat that process with all your brussel sprouts. Tedious work. THEN you wash the leaves and shake out an excess water. Maybe even leave them in a strainer to drain a little more while you finish up your prep work.
Then you take your bacon and dice it up. Some people prefer to crisp it first and then crumble it, but this way make the pieces the perfect size, without getting crumbly.
Once the bacon is diced, toss it into a sauté pan and render the fat out. The bacon should be just shy of your desired crispness when you toss in the leaves.
Let the leaves cook for maybe a minute or two, until they turn into a brilliantly bright Kelly green. Emerald is a little too dark of a color to describe the leaves, so Kelly green it is. Do NOT overcooked them. They should still have a bit of a toothsome feel to it. If the leaves are limp and greasy, they’re a little past their prime.
And that’s it. Seriously. You can add some salt and pepper if you like, but Mike likes them plain plain plain.
Hopefully, this will give you a bit of pause the next time you dismiss brussel sprouts as “just another icky vegetable”. I know my tune sure has changed.