November 8, 2016
Growing up, I remember my dad loving Brussels Sprouts but mom never prepared them, so I didn't grow up a fan of the cabbagy green orb. But I needed to know if I could prepare a version that I liked, one that wasn't chalky or bitter, one that deserved a spot at my holiday table. My sister reminded me that "everything is better with bacon!" so I took her advice and whipped up a bit of my own.
At the store, choose fresh, crisp sprouts that are bright green. When you get them home, trim off the dark stem and remove any yellow leaves. Cutting the sprout in half will hasten the cooking. Cut large sprouts into quarters. Then rinse, dry and prepare. I have provided a few options for preparing - pan braised or oven roasted. Choose the method that suits your preferences.
Pan Braised Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Oven Roasted with Cheese Sauce
Pan Braised Version:
Chop bacon. Using a large skillet over medium heat, scramble fry bacon until crisp. Remove bacon and set aside, drain excess fat from the pan (reserve). Add brussel sprouts, butter, and salt to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned; about 10 minutes. Add additional butter, or bacon drippings, as needed to prevent scorching. Add water, salt and pepper to taste, cover with a lid and continue to cook until sprouts are almost tender (about 8-10 minutes longer). Remove lid and evaporate excess liquid, stir in bacon bits. Place sprouts in serving bowl and squeeze fresh lemon juice over the top. Serves 6-8
Oven Roasted Version:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Trim brown ends from sprouts; cut in half, cut larger sprouts in quarters. Toss sprouts and chopped garlic with oil; spread in a single layer on baking sheet lined with foil (for easy clean up); sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Roast 25-40 minutes or until tender; shake pan or stir every 5 to 8 minutes to brown all sides. Drizzle with vinegar to taste and add Parmesan cheese.
Oven Roasted with Cheese Sauce:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Trim brown ends from sprouts; cut in half, cut larger sprouts in quarters. Toss sprouts in olive oil and spread in a 9x13 pan. Salt and pepper to taste (between ½-1 teaspoon salt). Bake 25 minutes, stirring every 5-8 minutes to brown all sides.
While sprouts are baking, prepare cheese sauce. Melt butter in a small sauce pan; add chopped onion/shallot and saute over medium heat until translucent. Sprinkle flour over onions and stir 1-2 minutes to cook, creating a roux. Whisk in milk and bring to a boil. Add Parmesan cheese and half the gruyere cheese, stir to melt. Spoon cheese sauce over roasted brussel sprouts, sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly.
Brussel sprouts can have a stronger flavor that may cause kids to say, "no thanks!" As a member cabbage family, if cooked too long, they will turn a putrid green color. Since we eat with our eyes, the color combined with a sometimes bitter taste can provoke not so fond memories. Good tip to remember when cooking for kids: Kids' taste buds are much more sensitive than adults so don’t overcook! This will spare the color, cut down on potential bitterness and retain the vegetables' nutritional value.