It's been a crazy couple of weeks around here. Ever since Thanksgiving I feel like I've been running around from work to various catering events to social commitments without a few moments to put my feet up or do a downward dog, let alone cook a complex meal. When we have been home for dinner, I've generally been throwing together quick meals based on whatever ingredients we have in the refrigerator. While my throw-together meals usually turn out pretty tasty and satisfying (or so my hubby tell me), I haven't felt that I've come up or perfected any recipes lately that would deserve their own blog post - until this Brussels sprouts dish.
Late last week Andrew returned from a business trip out to Minneapolis. During his one night stay there, one of his colleagues brought him to her favorite restaurant in town, 112 Eatery. The star, Andrew said, were Brussels sprouts served in balsamic vinegar. They were charred, he said, and lightly coated in a sweetly acidic balsamic syrup. Being a huge Brussels sprouts fan, this sounded wonderful to me, so I started experimenting. I tried the dish a few different ways and, after several tweaks (and probably three too many meals in row that were served with a side of Brussels sprouts), I eventually came up with a solid recipe for a Brussels sprouts in balsamic reduction. The addition of bacon and Parmesan cheese in my recipe deviates from the dish Andrew had in Minneapolis, but they are wonderful additions to this addictive and healthy (thank goodness, being that we had it four times this week!) side dish.
Two technical notes I want to mention: 1. Most recipes say to parboil Brussels sprouts five to six minutes before pan searing them, but I find cooking two or three minutes is totally adequate if you are searing them after. This way, you don't end up with a mushy and not so pleasant smelling Brussels sprout. 2. When you trim the Brussels sprouts in preparation for this dish, save any leaves that fall off. Add them into the pan when you are caramelizing them and you will end with delicious little Brussels sprouts chips- which are our favorite part.
Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Reduction & Bacon
1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed (but save those stray leaves!)
1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
pinch raw sugar
2 strips bacon, diced
1 TBSP canola oil, if needed
2 TBSP grated Parmesan
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Parboil Brussels sprouts about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to an ice bath to stop cooking. Once cool, halve lengthwise and let dry on paper towels.
While Brussels sprouts are drying, bring vinegar to a boil and stir in a pinch of sugar. Whisk constantly until reduced by half. Transfer to large mixing bowl.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and cook bacon until crisp and fat has rendered. Remove (and reserve) bacon using a slotted spoon. Increase heat to high and add halved Brussels sprouts into the pan with the bacon fat, cut side down (adding more canola oil if pan looks dry). Let cook until brown and caramelized (now is a good time to throw in those stray Brussels sprouts leaves). Flip and continue cooking a few more minutes.
Transfer to bowl with balsamic reduction and toss. Using tongs, pull sprouts from bowl, discarding excess balsamic. Top with bacon and grated Parmesan cheese.