Never in a million years did my 10-year-old self think I would like Brussels sprouts as much as I do now. I still remember my best friend telling me her dad elected to fall asleep at the kitchen table instead of eating his Brussels sprouts, and that pretty much guaranteed my anti-Brussels sprouts stance for the next two-ish decades. I’m not even sure why I started giving them a chance, but now I can’t seem to stop cooking them. Actually both Brussels sprouts and cauliflower – two vegetables I was sure I would dislike for life.
Gjelina’s version of Brussels sprouts – pan-seared with bacon and dates (or sweet cherries, since I was all out of dates) – is one of the best versions of Brussels sprouts I’ve had yet. They’re slightly sweet from the fruit sauce reduction, slightly salty from the bacon, perfectly tender with a nice char on the cut side. I could eat the entire batch all by myself, although I wouldn’t recommend it. They’re also ridiculously easy to make. The most-labor intensive step is cutting the sprouts in half, which happens to be a great chore to give your dinner guests.
- 3 oz bacon, cut into ¼-inch wide matchsticks
- 1 Tbsp avocado or extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lb (355 g) Brussels sprouts*, halved lengthwise
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup dried sweet cherries**
- 1 cup (240 ml) chicken stock***
- 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp red wine vinegar
- Heat a large frying pan over medium heat, cook the bacon with the oil until its fat is rendered but the bacon is still juicy, about 10 minutes.
- Transfer cooked bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, then increase the heat to medium-high/high. (If you have a lot of fat in the pan, drain some, but you'll want to keep most of it as the sprouts are going to soak it up).
- Add the Brussels sprouts to the pan, using tongs to ensure cut side is facing down. Sear without disturbing them for 5-7 minutes, until sprouts are charred and beginning to blacken. (I had to do this step in two batches, as my pan isn't large enough to hold a full pound of halved sprouts.) Flip the sprouts, then season with salt and pepper.
- Add the dried cherries and cooked bacon to the pan, toss, then continue cooking until the sprouts begin to color - another 2-3 minutes.
- Add the stock, a little bit at a time, to the pan. Using a wooden spoon, smash the cherries into the sauce, thereby breaking them into smaller pieces as the sauce reduces. Once the cherries are almost fully incorporated (several minutes), add the vinegar.
- Continuing cooking another 2-3 minutes, or until the sauce is thick enough it is coating the Brussels sprouts. Do NOT reduce too much, otherwise the sauce will become overly sweet.
- The sprouts should be well-charred on the outside, but still bright green on the inside and bite-tender.
- Serve warm.
**The original recipe calls for pitted soft, fresh dates.
***I was cooking for a friend who's allergic to chicken, so I used vegetable stock instead. I thought it worked quite well, but I imagine the chicken stock is a little better.
Original source: Gjelina