Roasted Fresh Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar
From Shirley Mah Kooyman.
Most Americans have a ‘love – hate’ relationship with Brussels sprouts. It’s mostly because they grew up eating frozen ones, overcooked ones that lacked flavor, or bitter tasting large sprouts. The year I spent as an exchange student in the Netherlands was an eye-opener for how Brussels sprouts could be a tasty side dish. The Brussels sprouts I had at home-cooked Dutch family dinners were surprisingly sweet and firm. The cooked Brussels sprouts were served with a light sprinkling of salt and nutmeg and nothing else. The tip to having a tasty Brussels sprouts dish is to start with small sprouts. The ideal size is 1” long. Here is a case of ‘bigger is not better’. Large sprouts tend to be bitter. Sprouts are also sweeter once they’ve been touched by frost out in the field. The pine nuts in this recipe can be substituted with other nuts.
1 ½ lbs. fresh Brussels sprouts (buy small size), not frozen
¼ cup pine nuts
3 teaspoons oil (canola or olive is good)
2 thick slices of bacon, cut into ¼” pieces
½ medium onion, diced
Salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Trim ends of the Brussels sprouts. Remove any damaged outer leaves. Cut in half if using larger sprouts. Rinse, drain and dry off. Set aside.
In a large 9 ½ inch dry cast iron pan (or any kind of pan or braiser that can be put on the stove and into the oven), toast pine nuts on the stove top until golden color. Watch carefully on the toasting. It doesn’t take long for the nuts to burn. Remove pine nuts into a bowl.
In the pan just used for toasting the pine nuts, add 1 teaspoon oil and heat quickly. Add bacon pieces. Fry until most bacon fat is melted. Add another 2 teaspoons oil and onion to the bacon. Cook until onion is translucent and bacon is almost crispy. Add salt & pepper to taste, mix well.
Remove bacon & onion from pan. Set aside. Do not wash pan. Add Brussels sprouts to the pan. Cook a little bit on stove top to brown the cut edges of the sprouts. Put pan into the preheated oven. Cook for 15 minutes until sprouts are light brown and tender.
Remove pan from oven. Stir in toasted pine nuts, bacon and onion. Return to oven and cook another 3 minutes. Drizzle generously on top with balsamic vinegar (about 1 Tablespoon). Toss well to combine. Serve directly from pan.