Curious thing about our palates, they change. As an example, take Brussel sprouts, a vegetable that because it looks and smells funny I never appreciated. And why? Most likely, they were not properly prepared or they were frozen. It’s best to seek them out fresh, and seemingly they are everywhere. In fact, Trader Joe’s sells fresh stalks–all 2 1/2′-3′ feet. Think of the Brussels sprouts plant as one really tall stemmed cabbage with many sprouts along the stalk. Pluck a handful off for a serving, keep the stalk in a vase on the counter and they will last for a week. Kids will think they are absolutely prehistoric. Historically we can credit statesman and omnivore Thomas Jefferson, for introducing the plant to the United States from Paris in 1821. Large scale cultivation began sometime in the 16th century in (wait for it…) Brussels, Belgium. The following recipe is my go-to kitchen standard. I often have this alongside a roast chicken or with a poached egg for Sunday breakfast. It also has become a standard at Thanksgiving dinner as a side where someone will state “I don’t like those.” I simply smile and say, “Is that right?”
Extra Extra! Brussels sprouts renaissance in Bay Area is a quick read on the flip in the market from mostly frozen to fresh and it’s all happening in Half Moon Bay.
Brussel Sprouts Braised in Cider with Bacon
1 lb. Brussel sprouts
3 pieces bacon, diced (pancetta can also be used)
1 cup chicken brother (or water)
1/2 cup apple cider (if you don’t have cider, orange juice will work)
Remove bottoms of Brussels sprouts along with any outer raggedy-looking leaves. Quarter each sprout. Over medium heat in a skillet sauté the bacon pieces. Cook until the bacon is nearly done, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Push the bacon toward the edges of the pan and arrange the Brussels sprouts in the pan in a single layer, with the cut side down. Leave them in the pan without stirring, letting them brown slightly, about 5 minutes. Now add the chicken broth and turn heat up to med-high. When it appears the Brussels sprouts have caramelized, and most of the chicken brother is gone, add the cider. Turn heat to med-high and bring the mixture to a medium boil. Cook until the liquid has reduced to a glaze and the Brussels sprouts are cooked. If too much liquid boils away before brussels sprouts are tender, add additional liquid.
Note: if you prefer, cook the bacon separately, or ahead and crumble it. Toss with finished vegetables before serving.
Variation: Instead of bacon toast pecans or walnuts and mix into cooked sprouts.