An easy and elegant side dish for the holiday table...in under 30 minutes!
Brussels sprouts can be tricky. For one thing, they often are not tender until they lose their bright green color, rendering them sort of sad-looking. Also, they are so frequently roasted because without the caramelization, they leave a lot to be desired. Enter, baby Brussels sprouts...bacon...maple syrup...dried cranberries...and using your wok. Baby Brussels sprouts can be sautéed to become tender all the while remaining a vibrant green color. By using a wok it happens in a flash without taking up precious space in your oven. Bacon, maple, and cranberries add a sweet and salty flavor with lots of textural delights, perfect for the tastebuds and the eyes at the holiday table. If you can't find baby Brussels sprouts, just slice regular Brussels sprouts in half. It's all about technique, not torture!
Essential equipment: cutting board; chef's knife; paring knife; measuring spoons; wok or large sauté pan with tight-fitting lid; wooden spoon; paper towel-lined plate; tongs; small bowl or ramekin; small strainer
3 slices bacon, chopped into ½-inch dice
1 pound bag baby Brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons dried cranberries/craisins
1-2 tablespoons real maple syrup
kosher salt to taste
ILOC tip: make this recipe your own using the flavors and garnishes you like. If you don't eat bacon, skip the bacon and begin the recipe at Step 2 with 1 tablespoon olive oil, then finish the dish with a pat of butter. If you don't like maple syrup, replace with honey or honeycomb. If you prefer pomegranate to craisins, go for it!
1. Place the bacon pieces in a wok or large sauté pan over high heat. Cook, stirring frequently until the fat has rendered and the bacon pieces have crisped. Remove the bacon pieces to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and set aside. Pour off all but 1-2 tablespoons of bacon fat (reserve for another use).
2. Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the Brussels sprouts. Stir to coat with the 1-2 tablespoons fat, sprinkle lightly with salt, and cook for 1-2 minutes.
3. Add 2-4 tablespoons of water to the hot pan and immediately cover with the lid. Cook, uninterrupted, for 6-8 minutes. Remove the lid, allowing any excess water the evaporate, if necessary, and cook until knife-tender (when a paring knife is easily inserted, without resistance), approximately 2 more minutes.
4. While the Brussels sprouts cook covered in the pan, soak the cranberries. In a ramekin or small bowl, cover the cranberries with hot water for five minutes. Set aside.
ILOC tip: soaking the cranberries in very hot water for 5 minutes, reconstitutes them a bit so that their texture is no longer dense and chewy but tender and thus complementary to the rest of the dish.
5. Once the Brussels sprouts are knife-tender, add the maple syrup and stir well to coat. Cook for 30-60 seconds and then remove from the heat. Strain the cranberries. Stir in the bacon and cranberries. Taste and adjust seasoning, carefully adding more kosher salt if needed.
6. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.