Thursday, June 16, 2011

Brussels Sprouts With Bacon

See how they're shiny? That's because they were cooked in bacon fat.
As far as I can tell, about sixty percent of children's popular culture is devoted to disparaging brussels sprouts. Unlike spinach, they have no quirky sailor to stand up for their good name and health benefits. They are constantly fed to the sitcom family's dog. Well, it's time to grow up. Brussels sprouts are good for you, and you should give them a chance.

Cooking brussels sprouts isn't very hard. Your best bet is either to steam them or roast them. Usually, roasting wins out in paleo recipes, because it's easier to add paleo items to roasted brussels sprouts than steamed ones. This is basically a roasting recipe, but the sprouts will spend a few minutes on the cook top to get them started. Since it's also loaded with bacon, it should be a good way to tempt the vegetable-phobes into trying something new.

The quantities in this recipe are largely based on the sizes of packaging at Trader Joe's.
You can adjust them a little without really harming the recipe.


2 lbs brussels sprouts
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
12 oz bacon


Oven Safe Pan (I used cast iron)
Large Bowl (recommended)

Start by placing the brussels sprouts in a large bowl. Examine them to make sure they don't have any large blemishes or pieces of the stalk still attached. Trim them if necessary. Toss them with the garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

You should basically trim away anything that isn't green or white.

Chop the bacon into small pieces.

A little larger than bacon bits, but not big enough to even be called "bite-sized"

Add the bacon to a cold, oven-safe pan and turn the heat on to medium.

Adding the bacon before heating the pan will make more of the fat render out.
That's good, because you'll need it to coat the brussels sprouts.

Cook the bacon until it is brown and crispy. Remove it from the pan and let it drain. I recommend using a few paper towels on a plate as a draining rig.

Bacon fat is a valid paleo ingredient. How awesome is that?

You may need to pour off some of the bacon fat, if your bacon was particularly fatty. You need to keep about an eighth of an inch in the bottom of the pan, but don't keep more than a quarter inch. Add the brussels sprouts to the pan and turn them carefully to coat them with the bacon fat.

Cast iron works well, because it has no problem surviving in the oven.

When you put the brussels sprouts in the pan, turn your oven on to 350. Continue cooking the sprouts on the stove top over medium heat while the oven finishes pre-heating. Turn them occasionally. When the oven has finished heating, try to arrange the brussels sprouts into a single layer in the pan. Then put the pan into the oven and let the sprouts cook at 350 for about 20 minutes.

They'll be deeply browned. They shouldn't be blackened.

Before serving, add the bacon pieces to the sprouts and toss them to combine.

  • I ended up getting about a cup of fat from my bacon. I used about half of that to coat the brussels sprouts.
  • You may need to add a little salt to the sprouts after cooking them. It depends on how salty your bacon was. Just taste them and decide for yourself.
  • I really recommend using a cast iron pan for this. It holds heat well, and your oven will melt before it will. If you don't have one, it's worth the investment. A company called Lodge makes good cast iron products, and you can pick up one of their 10-inch skillets for about fifteen dollars.
  • You may be interested to know that several studies have shown that adding fat to vegetables greatly improves your body's ability to absorb the nutrients from those vegetables.
  • You may also be interested to know that bacon is awesome.

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