I mean, if you’re the kind of person whose life can be changed by brussels sprouts. I totally am.
I pulled this recipe for pan-fried brussels sprouts out of my bookmarks about a month ago as part of my never-ending quest to do things with vegetables other than “saute in garlic and oil” or “steam.” My boyfriend had valiantly agreed to give brussels sprouts (a previously despised food) a second chance, and I wanted to make it stick. There aren’t a ton of vegetables we agree on, and I didn’t want to close the door on any more. We’re talking about a dude who hates beets, here.
Luckily, this recipe is a goddamn solid gold winner. I’ve made a few small adaptations from Adam’s original recipe, so here it is how I make it.
Approx. 1 lb brussels sprouts, halved and stemmed and with any icky-looking outer leaves removed (I am fortunate enough to patronize a grocery store that gives me the option of buying loose brussels sprouts, and them motherfuckers are the size of ping-pong balls. If you do not have such a pleasurable option, one little tub should do it.)
3 strips bacon
3 – 5 cloves garlic
Approx. 1/2 a normal-sized red onion
Coarse-ground black pepper
Chop your bacon up into little pieces and fry them on medium-high until all the fat has rendered (you’ll know because the pieces stop sizzling). And hey, guys, can you recommend a decent brand of bacon? I’m picky as fuck and can’t find one I like enough to commit to. The one brand my family unanimously loved (Wright’s Applewood Smoked, you do not even know how good this shit was) is no longer available in our area, and they don’t seem keen on shipping me a packet every time I need bacon. Amazon will sell me seven pounds for $60, though. Woooo.
Anyway. Render the bacon, then remove it with a slotted spoon. Eyeball the pan. Do you have enough fat in there to cook things in? If you don’t, add a little olive oil (sometimes I have to, sometimes I don’t) and then turn the heat all the way up until the fat starts smoking. Now you can add your brussels sprouts (which you’ve already halved and cleaned, because you’re a pro). This is gonna get loud, y’all. Shit sizzles. Let ‘em sit for a minute, then start shaking the pan ferociously (and please for the love of not setting yourself on fire, choose a pan with a long handle). Continue in this vein – let ‘em sit, then shake the pan – for a couple minutes. What you’re doing is trying to get serious color on as much of the sprout as possible. With fat this hot, you will get serious color on whatever part of the sprout was initially in direct contact with the fat.
After 3 – 4 minutes, go ahead and add your sliced red onion. Shit’s gonna sizzle real loud. It’s beautiful. Let the onion soften for a minute or two and then go ahead and add your chopped garlic. Still gonna sizzle. Gonna smell delicious, too. Once the garlic has had a chance to soften slightly, re-add the crispy bacon, grab your bottle of vinegar, and give a healthy pour over the contents of the pan. Adam suggests champagne vinegar, which I’ve tried a few times and have not found pleasing. The flavor is too big, too … something. I’m not sure. I don’t like it. The only other non-balsamic vinegar I have is white vinegar, and while I mostly think of that as a cleaning product, it gets the job done in a pinch. So that’s what I use.
Let it cook for minute, then check a sprout. A fork should enter the stem easily with no resistance; it won’t yet. Cover the pan, put the heat on medium, and let it all cook down for a few minutes. This will have the unfortunate effect of lessening the brilliant green of the sprouts, but will also get them soft enough to eat. Probably cook them for 3 – 5 minutes with the lid on, stirring occasionally, until they’re fork tender. Then serve and eat that shit.
Happy 4th, I guess? Wooooo.