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Put Brussels sprouts back on your Christmas menu this year with these easy to prepare little flavour bombs. A classic side dish pimped to the max. A 20 minute sauté in a frying pan, and you’ll have a nutritious side dish that everyone can enjoy.
And, I’m saying that as someone who hated Brussels sprouts as a kid. I would refuse to eat them. I just remember overboiled, water-logged balls of nastiness.
Then one Christmas, my Dad pulled out all the stops and created the most spectacular Christmas dinner we had ever eaten. He had always been a good cook, but it was like he’d channelled his inner Gordon Ramsey and become a master chef.
That meal would change the way I felt about Brussels Sprouts forever. Thanks, Dad! And today, I’m sharing our family secrets. Well, probably the ‘secrets’ of every person who loves their Brussels Sprouts, because they’re cooking them right!
HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST BRUSSELS SPROUTS
When it comes to choosing your Brussels sprouts, you can’t rely on sell-by dates alone. You’re looking for Brussels sprouts that are bright green and firm with tightly packed leaves. Check off these boxes, and you’re off to a good start!
I don’t think it matters if you buy your sprouts on the stalk or chopped off the stalk. However, I would advise against buying packs that have had the stems removed or ‘trimmed’ because they tend to turn brown quicker. It doesn’t take long to trim the stems yourself, and it’s usually cheaper.
Choosing good quality Brussels sprouts will also ensure you are benefitting from all their nutritional goodness.
You’ll be adding fibre, vitamins (particularly vitamin K and C), minerals and antioxidants to your Christmas table, with health benefits like potentially decreasing inflammation, improving blood sugar control and reducing cancer risk. (Source)
Let’s keep all that nutrition intact by cooking our Brussels sprouts right!
DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, BOIL YOUR BRUSSELS SPROUTS!
No boiling allowed! Keep that dreaded water away. Not even the merest dip. No, no. NO! The liquid quickly saturates the sprouts, making them soggy and not to mention, stinky.
A traditional way to prepare Brussels sprouts is to cut a criss-cross in the stem with a knife. The idea is that water can penetrate the thick stem helping the sprout to cook more evenly. But this is a disaster! The sprouts become waterlogged and soggy. Not nice!
CHOP YOUR BRUSSELS SPROUTS EVENLY
First, you need to slice your Brussels sprouts into similar sized chunks to ensure even cooking. You can chop them in half or into quarters. Or, you could slice them evenly or shred them with a grater or a mandoline. Any option works well. Just choose one, and keep your slices even.
TIP: the smaller the pieces, the quicker your Brussels sprouts will cook.
CHOOSE A TASTY FAT
I’m using smoked bacon in this recipe as the smoky flavour pairs perfectly with the sweet caramelisation that will develop as you sauté the Brussels sprouts.
By using only four rashers of streaky bacon, you should get enough highly flavourful fat to coat your Brussels sprouts and crisp them up to perfection.
To keep this dish ‘real food’ based, and as minimally processed as possible, choosing a sugar-free, nitrate-free, grass-fed bacon is best.
PAIR BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH A FRAGRANT HERB
I choose rosemary! Even if rosemary didn’t look like little Christmas trees, I would still choose to chuck a few sprigs in with my Brussels sprouts. Its woody flavour profile stands up to the rich nuttiness of the sprouts really well.
SAUTÉ (OR PAN FRY)
Sautéeing your Brussels sprouts gives you the same kind of caramelisation that you can get from putting them in the oven. However, you have much more control over the hob. You won’t need to give the sprouts all that much attention as you want them to catch on the bottom of the pan, crisp up and caramelise, but you can keep checking, tasting until you get to your version of perfectly cooked.
TIP: Don’t overload the pan! You’ll end up steaming the sprouts, which will stop them from crisping up.
PIMP TO ABSOLUTE PERFECTION
My Christmassy pimping ingredients of choice are:
- Pink Peppercorns
Chestnuts are associated with Christmas here in the UK and are readily available at this time of year. Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without them! But more than that, chestnuts give a leg-up to the natural nuttiness of the Brussels sprouts.
Honey adds a subtle sweetness to the dish and coats the Brussels sprouts with a beautiful shine. It will make your guests want to dive right in. If you don’t want leftover sprouts, trust me, honey is the key here!
Pink peppercorns add a little exotic magic. They’re fruity with mild heat and deliciously unexpected. For best results, crush them and sprinkle over the cooked sprouts.
COOK BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH BACON AND PINK PEPPERCORNS AHEAD
Simplify your Christmas day by making this dish up to four days ahead of time. You can simply reheat on the day you want to serve it.
Here’s what you do.
- Once you have prepared the dish, let cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- When you want to reheat them, you can either microwave or put them back on the hob.
- To microwave, transfer to a microwavable dish and heat for 4 minutes or until piping hot.
- To heat on the hob, heat some extra virgin olive oil in a pan and re-saute for 5 minutes or until piping hot.
HOW DO YOU MAKE BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH BACON & PINK PEPPERCORNS?
Check out the below step-by-step instructions, or scroll down to find the printable recipe card.
STEP-BY-STEP RECIPE INSTRUCTIONS
Prepare all your ingredients and get your equipment ready.
Wash and dry your brussels sprouts with a clean tea towel. Click off any shoddy outer leaves and chop into quarters.
Chop your bacon into 1cm strips. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan on medium-high heat and fry the bacon until it’s starting to crisp up, usually about 3 minutes. Now, add the rosemary and fry with the bacon for another 2 minutes.
Now, add the Brussels sprouts to the pan and give them a good stir to coat them with bacon fat and rosemary, and let them cook away for about 12 minutes. You want them to catch at the bottom of the pan, start to caramelise and crisp up, so only toss them every 3-5 minutes.
Add the chestnuts and season with salt and pink peppercorns. Cook for another 3 minutes or so until the Brussels sprouts have softened and have a lovely crispy exterior. You want the Brussels sprouts to have a nice bite, but be cooked through.
Pour in the honey and give everything one final toss until every bite is coated, then serve and enjoy!
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon & Pink Peppercorns
- Sauté Pan (Frying Pan)
- Wooden Spoon or Spatula
- 800 g Brussels Sprouts Washed, patted dry, trimmed and quartered
- 0.5 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 4 Rashers Smoked Streaky Bacon
- 1 tbsp Fresh Rosemary Finely chopped
- 100 g Cooked Chestnuts
- 1 tsp Sea Salt
- 0.5 tsp Pink Peppercorns Crushed
- Prepare all your ingredients and get your equipment ready.
- Wash and dry your brussels sprouts with a clean tea towel. Click off any shoddy outer leaves and chop into quarters.
- Chop your bacon into 1cm strips. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan on medium-high heat and fry the bacon until it’s starting to crisp up, usually about 3 minutes. Now, add the rosemary and fry with the bacon for another 2 minutes.
- Now, add the Brussels sprouts to the pan and give them a good stir to coat them with bacon fat and rosemary, and let them cook away for about 12 minutes. You want them to catch at the bottom of the pan, start to caramelise and crisp up, so only toss them every 3-5 minutes.
- Add the chestnuts and season with salt and pink peppercorns. Cook for another 3 minutes or so until the Brussels sprouts have softened and have a lovely crispy exterior. You want the Brussels sprouts to have a nice bite, but be cooked through.
- Pour in the honey and give everything one final toss until every bite is coated. Now, serve and enjoy!
I hope you LOVE this recipe as much as I do! It’s
- Sweet and savoury
- Bursting with a fruity pink peppercorn heat
- and above all else, yummy!
And, if you do get the chance to give these Brussels Sprouts with Bacon & Pink Peppercorns a try, please drop me a note in the comment section and provide star rating. I’d love to know what you think.
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