I'll tell you right now that I was the weird kid that actually liked Brussels sprouts. Two reasons for that: 1) My mom didn't overcook them until they were a mushy, soggy mess; and 2) butter, lots of butter.
Brussels sprouts are a relatively cheap vegetable to cook and they're low-maintenance. Give them a quick rinse, pop them in a pot of boiling salted water for about 10 minutes, then plunge them into an ice bath to stop the cooking process. But on their own the taste can leave a bit to be desired.
Bacon to the rescue! I do like my Brussels sprouts just fine with lots of butter and salt, but sauteing them in bacon fat gives them an even better flavour. Ok, so it's not exactly low fat, but hey, you're still eating your vegetables! And when I say bacon fat, I mean a tablespoon or two, tops.
Here's a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis's Everyday Italian for Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta -- who knows, it may even convince your kids to eat them!
Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta
1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts
2 tbsp olive oil
3 ounces paper-thin slices of pancetta, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook until crisp-tender, about 10 minutes. Drain. Place the Brussels sprouts in a large bowl of ice water to cool completely. Drain again.
Meanwhile, in a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until it begins to crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until pale golden, about two minutes. Using a slotted spoon transfer the pancetta mixture to a large serving bowl. Add the Brussels sprouts to the same skillet and saute until heated through and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, 1/2 tsp of pepper and 1/4 tsp of salt, and simmer until the broth reduces just enough to coat the Brussels sprouts, about 3 minutes.
Transfer the Brussels sprout mixture to the pancetta mixture and toss to combine. Season with more salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
Makes four side-dish servings.
If you don't have pancetta on hand you can easily use regular side bacon.
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