Servings: 8 Prep: 20 min Cook: 10 min Total: 35 mins
Boy do I wish I remembered where I was when I first enjoyed the source of this recipe. I want to say it was at kind of funky rustic farm to table joint that I checked out on a drive through Chicago, but I really don’t recall. The original recipe was actually quite a bit simpler than this. It was just roasted brussels sprouts and bacon, with maple syrup. Nada mas.
I remember that I was trying to behave. The idea of brussels sprouts and bacon sounded ideal. Maple syrup, I rationalized, is ok within the primal ideology (slippery slope). However, I also remembered thinking that brussels sprouts and pancake syrup seemed like a strange combination. But then the strong magnetic pull of the bacon convinced me to order it, anyway.
I remember the dish came served in a small screaming hot cast iron skillet, sitting on a dark and scarred old wooden trivet. It was all hot and smoky, with a strong bacon aroma. As the server set it down, she raised an opaque glass sauce boat and poured high grade maple syrup all over the pan. Like a good fajita, the sprouts steamed and gurgled with glee. “What a fascinating and weird way to serve brussels sprouts!” I thought.
Boy… oohhh… boy!
I was shocked that the bitter-sweet brussels sprouts were so well complimented by the maple. It was a clear match made in heaven. The bacon acting as the officiant!
I’ve never forgotten that dish. I wish I could remember where it was, so I could give them credit. I mean, it’s not a complicated dish, but… my taste buds and olfactory nerves turn to pudding when I think about it.
This recipe? This is the same thing, more or less. Same flavors, a better blanching and season approach, but basically the same concept.
Then, I threw some celebratory dried cranberries in there. Tis the season!
Pan-Seared Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries, Bacon and MaplePrint Rate
- 1 lb raw bacon
- 2 lb brussels sprouts
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries coursely chopped
- 1/4 cup sugar free maple syrup
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place a pot of salted water on the stove to boil. The water should be fairly salty.
- Place a large sauté pan over medium heat.
- Chop the bacon into chunks, like large bacon bits (they’ll shrink when they cook). Add the raw bacon to the pan, stirring occasionally. While the bacon cooks, set up a bowl with a strainer and some paper towels to set the cooked bacon bits on. Cook the bacon until it is largely crispy and the fat has rendered out. Once it’s ready, pour the bacon into the strainer so that the bacon fat can drain into the bowl. Shake it above the bowl to get any straggling bacon fat, then pour the bacon on the towels. Scatter evenly over the towel so the bacon can dry and drain, without steaming.
- Once the water boils, throw your brussels sprouts into the water to boil.
- Let them boil for about 4 to 6 minutes. While they boil, gather a big bowl of ice water. After 4 minutes remove the smaller sprouts first. Plunge them into the ice water. Keep removing them from the water and adding to the ice water, from smallest to largest. They should be firm, about 75% cooked, but not 100% cooked. NOT soft. You will continue cooking them, later.
- Once they are all in the ice water, let them stay in the ice water for about 10 minutes, until they are completely chilled, all the way through. Remove them and drain them, so they are dry.
- Cut them in half, so that the stem stays intact on both halves. You can also trim any loose leaves and any brown or fibrous stem ends, at the point. These can be tough.
- Set aside to be cooked later ... or just cook them.
- To cook, place a large non-stick sauté pan on the stove. You may need two, at the same time. Get it hot over medium-high heat.
- Add enough of your bacon fat to coat the bottom of the pan. Swirl it around. Quickly add your dry brussels sprout halves. Turn them all so they are all facing down in the pan and are only one layer deep. They should not be stacked, or else they will steam. They should be searing and frying in the hot bacon fat. Let them fry for a few minutes, so the faces get nice and caramelized. Move them around the pan, so they cook evenly. Keep the pan hot.
- Once they are nice and cooked, add the bacon bits and chopped cranberries. Season with a little salt and pepper. Toss and serve. Once the brussels sprouts are on the table, in front of people, drizzle the maple syrup over the top of the brussels sprouts, making a big spectable of it. Show your pearly whites and say, “Ohhh... “ and “... ahhh...” as you pour. People will love them!
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