I spent my entire day Sunday cooking. I only do it a couple of times a year, so I don't mind it. One of my most favourite holiday side dishes is Bacony Brussel Sprouts. I only make them a couple of times a year because they are time consuming to make, and let's be honest I would give us all hardening of the arteries if I made them more than a couple of times a year.
As a kid I HATED those bitter green orbs. It took me until my teens to acquire a taste, and then I was hooked. Now I LOVE those delicious little green balls of goodness! They really do have a very distinctive taste, and it is an acquired taste. Maybe more than an acquired taste, it takes more mature taste buds. When Christopher and I were first married, he was not a fan. It took this recipe to make him fall in love with the noble brussel sprout.
Originally I would just cook the brussel sprouts in salted water, then serve and top with butter. They were plenty tasty. Two years ago Christopher gave me a Emeril Lagasse cookbook for Christmas ( I asked for it). I fell in love with his green bean recipe that involved cooking the green beens in chicken broth and bacon. He was the inspiration for my greatest hit (well according to my own self if that counts for anything).
The first step is to select your brussels. You can buy them frozen, but I prefer fresh (mainly because I have it down to an art with fresh, and would not be sure how to time frozen). I only need a few because they are just for Christopher and I (although I do make the kids try them every time). I like them to be compact, and have the leaves nice and tight. I then wash them with soap and water.
The next step is to cut the hard bottom off them. Don't take off too much because it will cause the brussel to fall apart, trust me on this, I know from experience.
The next step is to score the bottom in a letter "X". I'll be honest I'm not sure about the reasoning behind this one, but I saw them do it on The Food Network. It seems to me they said it let the flavours soak in better, who knows, but I do it.
The next step is to toss those little green nuggets into a large pot with chicken broth and about a teaspoon of salt. I let them cook on medium high for about 7 minutes. I don't want to cook them to completely tender at this stage.
The next step is the most important!!!!! I like to cut my bacon up into small squares, it speeds up the cooking time. I also tend to put in two or three whole slices just for decoration later (plus for the delicious bacon drippings). When the bacon has cooked up enough to produce some nice drippings I saute chopped white onions. I have to say the smell is heaven!
The next step, toss in the cooked, drained brussels into the bacon and onion mix (after the onion has browned up). I like to brown the leaves up a bit, and really let the bacon drippings soak in. At this point I sprinkle a little salt over the top.
The last step in this lengthly, but totally worth it process is to toss everything into a casserole dish and cook it on 350 degrees for about half an hour. I should warn you, your mouth will drool a lot during the cooking process, the smell is AMAZING!
The last step, serve. Oh they are sooooo good. These are not for the health conscious, and I would not recommend eating them more than twice a year... for health reasons (it's really not that healthy to cook with bacon fat... although seriously good). When you open that casserole lid, you will be met with a beautiful sight. The green is almost neon (the camera does not do it justice), with toasted brown spots, and crusted in bacon.
For my fellow brussel sprout lovers out there, give these a try. Let me know what you think.