Brussels sprouts. Among American children (and many adults), this vegetable has come to be regarded more as a punishment than as nourishment. I, however, have always loved them. I don't know if it was because I was charmed by their looks (adorable miniature cabbages!), or if it is just because my mom is a rockstar with vegetables (because she is), but I think they're great. Greg has always been firmly in the other camp, but, as with many other foods, I have worked hard in the kitchen to find a way that he can enjoy them. When I started roasting them in the oven, then drizzling them with maple syrup and butter, he finally started eating them. But last week, when I tried out a modified version of a Cook's Illustrated recipe and added bacon to the maple syrup....the children loved them too! Billy couldn't get enough. In fact, that's all he wanted, and didn't have much use for the rest of his dinner. Success!!
What makes this recipe different: when sprouts are simply oven roasted, they have the tendency to dry out a bit, which makes them a little chewy. Here, the sprouts are oven roasted, but for the first 10 minutes they have foil over the top, so they steam and start to become tender and a little bit sweet. Once the foil is taken off, they are able to get nicely browned and flavorful.
Pictured here over white rice
Oven-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Maple Syrup
Source: Cook's Illustrated magazine, slightly modified
2 lbs Brussels Sprouts (ends trimmed off and sliced vertically in half)
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon water
1/4 lb bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup real, pure maple syrup (more or less to taste) (I'm sure you could also substitute honey or agave nectar -- just use what you have!)
Preheat oven to 500(F), and put oven rack to mid-top position. Toss Brussels sprouts, olive oil and water together and sprinkle with a bit of salt. Arrange brussels sprouts, cut side down, on a rimmed baking sheet. Cover tightly with aluminum foil.
Roast sprouts for 10 minutes. Remove foil (carefully! Steam will billow out, so use oven mitts if you have them). Return to oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until tender and nicely browned.
While the sprouts are roasting, heat a pan on the stove over medium-high heat, and cook bacon pieces until crisp. Remove bacon, allow it to cool somewhat, then chop or break into shards. Reserve 1 tablespoon of bacon fat drippings.
Place sprouts in a bowl. Add the reserved bacon fat, crisp bacon pieces, and maple syrup. Toss to coat.