Saturday, June 19, 2010

Maple Bacon Brussel Sprouts

I am in love with brussel sprouts.

I have never liked them before. In my childhood opinion, they were always noxious little versions of cabbage, which I definitely didn't like. And they always showed up dressed in faded army-green, smelling even worse than they looked. There was no way those brussel sprouts were going to get asked on a date. I didn't realize how poorly they had been treated.

And then I tried these. Steamed until just tender, tossed with crispy bacon pieces, gently caramelized, and then lightly dressed in pure, buttery maple syrup, these brussel sprouts are ready for a night on the town. Worthy of any black tie occasion. Or good enough to eat every day, for that matter.

Yes, a real love affair. Don't tell my husband.

Maple Bacon Brussel Sprouts
These brussel sprouts are best on the first day. If you have leftovers, they may come out dressed in that faded army-green color again, but they'll be just as tasty. The trick is not to overcook them so they keep a bit of bite and their vibrant green color.

Look for sprouts that are in season (late winter and early spring), with tight heads and unblemished leaves. It's even better if you can find them still on the stalk.

4 slices of good-quality bacon
2 lbs. brussel sprouts
3 Tbsp. butter
salt & pepper
3 Tbsp. good-quality maple syrup

Slice the bacon into small strips. Fry them on medium high heat in a frying pan until crisp and golden brown, draining and reserving the fat. Set the bacon pieces aside.

Wash and cut each brussel sprout in half. In the same pan you used for the bacon, melt the butter. Place the sprouts cut side down in the pan, taking care not to crowd them together; you want a single layer of sprouts. Season with salt and pepper, and add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Cover with a tight fitting lid, and simmer on medium high heat for 15 minutes, or until the water has evaporated and the sprouts are beginning to brown on the bottoms. Toss a couple times at this point and let the sprouts get some color on their rounded sides.

Test one with a fork to make sure it's tender. Add back the bacon pieces, and drizzle the maple syrup over. Toss it all together, and serve warm!

Should serve about 4 people as a side dish... or 2 people, if you're me and my husband.

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