I was forced to eat many gross-tasting “healthy things” as a child, but Brussels sprouts apparently isn’t in the Chinese diet, so I don’t remember ever eating them until I was much older. So I don’t have all the “blech” reaction that some people seem to have when I think of them. It’s hard to say, maybe I wouldn’t have hated them as a kid, since I didn’t hate eggplant or broccoli, and really, what’s to hate? They’re sweet little gems in the sad, bitter world of winter vegetables.
After eating out for two weeks in China and eating out most of the days since I’ve been back, I felt like it was time to start cooking today. I cooked for a few hours, hopefully making enough to get me through most of the week. After having a great Brussels sprouts and turnip dish at Tavern Law, I knew I wanted to make some. It was convenient to toss them into the pot when I was making 40 Cloves and a Chicken, but this time I felt like something not as garlic-centric. I asked the internet, and it turned up this recipe that spoke to me. It’s probably the title that did it; who can say no to “Oven-Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Autumn Fruits”? I modified it a little to remove the pears (I wanted less fruit in proportion to the sprouts), remove the onion (it’s on my list to avoid), and use dried herbs (that’s what I had on hand). Martha Stewart also has a version of this that replaces a lot of the seasoning with red wine vinegar. I don’t think I’d do that, but I do like the instructions to cook the bacon separately.
Verdict: the recipe is a winner! The sweetness of the apple really works with the Brussels sprouts. Next time, I’d probably try cooking the bacon separately before adding it to the mix and halving the recipe so it could fit in one pan. I don’t need that much just for one person… or do I? I have a feeling these aren’t going to last too long in the fridge.
Oven-Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Autumn Fruits, Modified (Original)
2 lbs Brussels sprouts
2 medium apples (I used either Gala or Pink Lady, I forget)
3 slices bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 tsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp dried sage
5 gloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp hot red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp brown sugar
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 450F.
2. Put 1-2 pans in the oven to warm up. You need enough surface area to form a single layer with all ingredients. I used 2.
3. In a big bowl, combine all ingredients. Season well with salt and pepper.
4. Pull out pan(s) and put ingredients in them, forming a single layer.
5. Bake until everything is browned and sprouts are tender, about 30-40 minutes, turning ingredients every 10 minutes.