Brussels sprouts make an annual appearance on many American Thanksgiving dinner menus. Some people love them, and some people detest the very sight of them.
If, like me, you grew up in Ireland, then Brussels sprouts made a far more frequent appearance on your dinner plate, than just once a year on the fourth Thursday of November. In fact, I could safely say that during the winter months in Ireland, I ate Brussels sprouts at least once per week.
Yes! I confess. I'm a Brussels sprout eater. I actually like these little balls of green, leafy goodness.
However, the Brussels sprouts of my childhood were usually just boiled, then strained and served with a little melting butter.
In recent years I've experimented with my Brussels sprouts and have tried roasted brussels sprouts, cooked in a single layer on a baking sheet in the oven.
However, I recenently moved away from roast brussel sprouts and adpoted the pan frying method. Trust me, this method makes them extra delicious. I love skillet fried cabbage, so brussels sprouts now get the same treatment in my house.
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Brussels Sprouts - An Acquired Taste
My Irish mother ensured I acquired a taste for Brussels sprouts, simply by refusing to take them off my plate every time she served them when I was a little girl growing up in Dublin.
She was determined to turn me into a good veggie eater, and she was definitely not a mother to cater to whims and special dietary requests. You ate what was put on your plate, and Brussels sprouts appeared at least weekly during the fall and winter months of my Irish childhood.
I think some Irish mom in centuries past discovered that brussels sprouts, just like cabbage, are a perfect match for bacon. When I was young I called them "small cabbage balls."
As members of the brassica family they belong to a category that includes cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and mustard greens. They're also known as cruciferous vegetables.
They're not widely praised for their general likeability - and I think it really is a case of either loving them or hating them. I think it's the slightly bitter taste of these sprouts that puts some people off. However, I hope this recipe will take the humble sprout beyond a bitter, detested category of dinner vegetable.
The key to this recipe is to impart the smoky, meaty goodness of crisped bacon, with a sweet hint of maple syrup into the bargain. This sweet and savory combination creates a skillet sprout recipe that diminishes the bitter bite of the Brussels sprout, and takes it to a different level of semi-nutritious goodness (Well, kind of nutritious - adding crispy bacon probably doesn't exactly add to the nutrition profile of this dish).
Anyway, if you're trying to convert your family to eating sprouts, then perhaps this recipe will give you a small chance of creating your very own Brussels sprouts fans.
And so, without further ado, let's get cooking our sprouts.
Ingredients For Brussels Sprouts
Here you’ll find a quick list of what you’ll need for this recipe. Check out the printable recipe at the bottom of this post for US and Metric equivalent versions of the recipe. There you can choose the measurement system that works best for you.
- Brussels sprouts (trimmed and halved)
- Bacon slices
- Olive oil
- Pure maple syrup
- Black pepper (freshly ground if available).
I don't add any salt to this recipe since I find the bacon adds plenty salty flavor.
Directions For Skillet Brussels Sprouts
Here you’ll find step-by-step photographic instructions to help you recreate this recipe successfully. There are plenty of tips included along the way.
Start by cutting up the bacon slices into small pieces or lardons
This will be cooked first, then set aside to garnish the dish at the very end.
Prepare the brussels sprouts by cutting away the bottom stems and removing the outside dark leaves. These outer leaves tend to be tough, with very concentrated flavor. It's best to discard them for tender, flavorful sprouts.
Cut each sprout in half.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat.
Add the bacon pieces and fry until brown and crisping.
Remove the bacon pieces with a slotted spoon and drain them on paper towels on a plate.
Set the bacon pieces aside for now.
Remove the bacon fat from the skillet. Return a small amount, about 1 tablespoon to the pan. This fat will add lots of extra flavor to the Brussels sprouts.
Add the olive oil to the bacon fat in the pan and allow it to heat for a minute.
Add the Brussels sprouts. I like to place them cut side down in the pan initially. Allow them to cook for about 4 to 5 minutes without moving them about in the pan.
Once they start to brown a little continue to cook them while stirring them about in the pan. Cook for a further 4 minutes.
Next, drizzle the maple syrup over the sprouts and continue to stir for another 2 to 3 minutes until the sprouts are completely glazed in sweet syrup and are tender when tested with a fork.
Season with the black pepper.
Return the bacon pieces to the pan and mix them through the sprouts.
Allow the flavors to meld a little before serving.
These sprouts are deliciously sweet and savory all at once.
This is my all time favorite way of serving Brussels sprouts.
I think it's my Irish affinity for bacon and cabbage that makes me love this dish so much. Bacon is the perfect partner for any green vegetable, and Brussels sprouts are a thirty-first cousin of cabbage.
Serve these Brussels sprouts directly after cooking. They taste best when they don't sit around for too long.
Some people like to top these sprouts with a sprinkling of cayenne pepper or paprika for a little extra kick. A dash of balsamic vinegar or hot sauce also works great.
They're perfect for Thanksgiving dinners, but my advice is to wash and halve the sprouts in advance, but don't actually cook them until pretty close to serving time.
This recipe is perfect for everyday dinners too. Don't wait until Thanksgiving every year to indulge in a few Brussels sprouts with a sweet and savory glaze.
I hope this recipe will convert a few Brussels sprouts detractors, to becoming fans of this humble vegetable.
Printable Recipe Card
Here's the printable recipe, if you would like to add it to your kitchen collection.
Maple Bacon Skillet Brussels Sprouts
- 1 pound Brussels Sprouts trimmed and halved
- 6 slices bacon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon pieces and fry until the bacon is golden and begins to crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan using a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Remove the bacon fat from the skillet except for about 1 tablespoon. Add the olive oil. Keep the burner on medium high. Place the Brussels sprout halves in the skillet. Cook with the wide, cut side face down in the pan. Allow the sprouts to cook for 4-5 minutes
- When the sprouts begin to brown and get charred, stir them as they cook for another 4 to 5 minutes. Keep moving the sprouts so they do not stick to the pan and burn.
- Drizzle the maple syrup over the sprouts and continue to stir them to completely coat their surface in syrup. Cook for 1 minute.
- Season the sprouts with pepper and sprinkle with the cooked bacon bits.
- Serve immediately while warm.
Nutrition Information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients used.
Storage of any leftovers is easy. Simply place them in an airtight container in the fridge. They'll keep for about 2 days and can be reheated in the microwave.
However, their aroma tends to intensify when cooked in the microwave. I actually eat these leftover sprouts cold, like a salad.
Thanks for following my recipes and ramblings.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Mairéad -Irish American Mom
Pronunciation - slawn ah-gus ban-ock-th
Mairéad - rhymes with parade
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