I’ve now eaten more Brussels sprouts in the past month, than the rest of my life! I do not expect many people to actually try this. But just know that they can be good. I’m excited to say that I like Brussels sprouts. It may be that my tastes are changing or maybe I just found more evidence supporting the fact that bacon can make anything taste good!
I am an avid Cooks Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen reader/watcher. A couple weeks ago, just before I started the SCD, my husband surprised me with The New Best Recipe cookbook. It’s huge, over 1000 pages and recipes!
Initially, I got a bit depressed thinking how I should really send it back, because there won’t be anything in there I can cook for a while. But, I was wrong. They cover extensive chapters on different meats, veggies, fruit and regular baking stuff (if you can).
So, we decided to start by experimenting with some vegetables we would usually avoid. [Eventually I’m gonna make that gardening thing happen and I want to grow what we like and know how to cook it too!] When I got home the next weekend, the husband had bought some Brussels sprouts! Talk about stepping up to a challenge…
Cooks Illustrated gives 3 recipe options in the book. The first option is to braise sprouts in water and season with salt/pepper and butter. Sounded a bit boring. The second option started the same by braising in water, but you also made an apple cider reduction and topped with chopped bacon! The final option they deemed the biggest success, but it involves heavy cream. Since cream is on the illegal list, we scratched off option 3.
I cooked them the next night following option 2 and the overall flavor was a bit lacking. The apple cider reduction was good, but it didn’t penetrate the entire sprout. Bacon is always good, so no problems there! We made some notes and deemed them a moderate success.
I decided to give them another shot tonight and had much better results. Instead of braising them in water, I went ahead and braised them in the cider. Essentially, killing 2 birds – cooking sprouts and reducing liquid in 1 pan! The flavor was much more balanced and I could taste the sweetness all the way in the center of the sprouts. The bacon compliments the dish without taking over the flavors and adds good texture.
One thing I love about Cooks Illustrated is that they are really good at trying to debunk food myths and explaining the details (i.e. why/when to use a specific cut of meat). For sprouts, they found that it is not really necessary to slice an “X” in the stem end. It doesn’t speed up the cooking time – it actually just wastes it! Also, if you have a choice for small or large sprouts – choose small, they are more tender and have better flavor.
(from Cooks Illustrated – The New Best Recipe 2012)
1-1.5 lbs Brussels sprouts (trim stem ends and remove damaged leaves)
1.5C apple cider
1/2 lb bacon
salt/pepper to taste
need wide bottom pan/skillet with lid
Cook bacon in pan until brown and crispy. Set aside on paper towel to drain. Remove all but 1TBSP of left over bacon grease.
Carefully add apple cider to pan and scrape up bacon bits. Bring cider to boil for 1min. Add Brussels sprouts; cover and reduce heat to simmer for 8-10mins until tender – stir often. Meanwhile, rough chop crispy bacon for garnish. Remove from heat when sprouts are fork tender to center. Serve warm with sauce and bacon garnish.