I’ve noticed that a lot of people decide to teetotal during the month of January. Seems it’s a kind of cleansing; a kind of New Year’s resolution; or maybe it’s just the kind of crowd I tend to hang out with. Well, I am not abstaining from alcohol for the month, but I did give myself an almost equally difficult challenge: stop buying so much bacon.
There was no time limit set on this goal, nor any real teetotaling (I’ll still eat bacon, I just want to stop buying so much of it). I realized, though, that if I buy a package of bacon on a Saturday, I feel the need to put it in everything – both because I want to use it up in good time and because it makes everything taste better. Which means that I end up eating a ½ lb. of bacon a week. Which can’t really be good.
So, soon my recipes may be more bacon-free, but for right now, I’ve still got a backlog of bacon-infused dishes, and this one, I think, is the real winner of the bunch: three ingredients (plus salt), practically no time, and vegetables involved (and Brussels sprouts, to boot). I really really love this dish; I would eat it all the time if I could. I would really like to try Kevin’s bacon-free version of making Brussels sprouts, though (he also has a more thorough musing on why the amazing Brussels sprout is so maligned, mostly having to do with rampant overcooking).
Basically: Don’t overcook. Caramelize, caramelize, caramelize. And add bacon to everything, until the day you realize you just can’t eat anymore.
Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Pecans
– Brussels sprouts (I used about two big handfuls), ends trimmed, rinsed, outer leaves removed if wilty
– Good-quality, thick-cut bacon (I used about two slices), roughly chopped
– Pecans, chopped (I used about ½ cup)
1. Bring a medium pot of slightly salted water to boil. Blanch Brussels sprouts (dump them in the boiling water for a minute or two until a little tender and then drain them). Preferably, you’ll shock them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking after you blanch them; if you are lazy, at least run some cold water over them (remember, you don’t want them to get mushy, though the sautéing will undo a little of the mushiness). When cool enough to handle, slice the Brussels sprouts in half lengthwise.
2. Fry the bacon in a large skillet. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on plates lined with paper towel. If there is a lot of fat still in the pan, pour some of it off into a can or jar.
3. Add Brussels sprouts halves to the bacon fat. Cook until golden brown and caramelized (about 10 minutes?).
4. Meanwhile, toast the pecans in a toaster oven or oven (watch carefully). (You can also toast them in the pan before adding the bacon.) They should slightly deepen in color and become very fragrant.
5. Add the bacon and the pecans to the Brussels sprouts. Toss the whole thing, so it is well-mixed and everything gets a little fat coating. Add salt to taste.