I’m eating my way through Hong Kong this week with Henry and the boys—you can follow our adventures on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!—but Chinese food isn’t the only fare on my mind. This morning, I found myself dreaming about the bowl of roasted, buttery Brussels sprouts and smoky bacon that we made last week for Thanksgiving.
It’s been three years since I first posted this dead-simple recipe, and it’s become one of the most popular on this blog. For a long time, I couldn’t figure out why; after all, Brussels sprouts aren’t exactly everyone’s favorite vegetable. Personally, when I was a kid, I couldn’t stand ’em.
It wasn’t until adulthood that I discovered that the mild, nutty bitterness of these bulbous sprouts blends beautifully with smoky pork. It was the warm Brussels sprouts salad with bacon and eggs at the now-long-gone Gordon’s House of Fine Eats in San Francisco that first opened my eyes and ultimately inspired the Cavolini Al Forno recipe in my cookbook (which comes out on December 17, 2013!). But with ingredients like Brussels sprouts and bacon, you don’t have to spend much time in the kitchen to produce a flavorful side dish that punches you in the face with flavor.
And today, I’ve decided to update my old post with the new photos I took on Turkey Day. Ready to revisit this classic recipe with me?
Here’s what to gather to make a side dish that feeds 4-6 people:
- 1½ pounds Brussels sprouts
- 2-3 tablespoons melted ghee or fat of choice
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 4 bacon slices, diced
- Aged balsamic vinegar
Here’s what to do:
[Updated 4/15/12: Here’s an oldie but goodie that desperately needed to get spiffed up. The old photos were embarrassingly bad. Enjoy the facelift!]
What do you do if you’re making bacon for a crowd and you don’t want to spatter grease on your pretty frock?
You bake it in the oven!
I first learned of this technique from Cook’s Illustrated and the initial batch I baked was revelatory. Oven-baked bacon crisps up beautifully, stays flat, AND you can easily collect a nice container of bacon fat that you can keep in the fridge for cooking. I love twofers.
Here’s what to gather to feed 4 people:
Here’s what you do:
Preheat oven to 400ºF with the rack situated right smack in the middle of the oven.
Grab your bacon…
…and line a baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place a cooling rack on the lined tray…
…and put the bacon in a single layer on the rack.
Pop the tray in the oven and cook for 10-20 minutes (thicker bacon requires longer cooking time).
Rotate the tray halfway through the cooking process and keep a close eye on the bacon near the end of the cooking time to make sure it doesn’t burn. You can smell if your bacon is ready, so trust your schnauze.
Line a plate with a few sheets of paper towel. Place the finished bacon on the paper towels to drain.
Pick up the corners of the foil carefully to collect the bacon grease in the middle and pour into a jar or glass container.
Now, that’s liquid gold.
I posted Serious Eats’s recipe for Collard Greens Mineira less than a week ago and I finally had a chance to make them tonight. In the past, I blanched my hearty greens before I sauteed them — a time-consuming, multiple-pan process — so this super-quick, one-pan recipe piqued my interest.
Here’s what I gathered for the recipe:
- 1 bunch of lancinato kale, leaves removed and thinly chopped
- 3 slices of bacon, cut in 1/4” strips
- splash of Banyuls vinegar (the original recipe uses a squeeze of lemon)
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Here’s what I did:
I washed and chopped the kale leaves…
…and assembled the rest of my ingredients.
I sauteed the bacon bits in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once they were crisp…
…I added in the kale leaves with a dash of salt and pepper.
I stirred the kale and bacon for a couple minutes and then splashed on some vinegar.
Super quick and yummy! The slightly wilted bitter greens are well-balanced with the bacon and vinegar. From now on, this speedy and simple cooking method will be the only way I make my hearty greens! Another shortcut to deliciousness…
Hello bacon, my old friend, I’ve come to eat you once again…
(Go ahead: Sing along with me to the tune of Simon and Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence. You know you want to.)
Now that I’m done with the Whole30 program, I’m free to add some bacon-y goodness to our dinner. And it just so happens that I found a recipe on Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food website for sautéed spinach and bacon that looked easy and tasty (my two prerequisites for any weekday dish). After surveying the contents of my crisper, I decided to modify the recipe a little by adding some sliced shallots and cremini mushrooms. I also opted to bake my bacon instead of frying it in the pan because I’m less likely to burn the bacon when I bake it. Bonus: I can also collect the delectable bacon grease in the tray!
Here’s what I assembled:
- 1 pound organic baby spinach
- 12 ounces of cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
- 3 slices of uncured bacon, baked and crumbled
- Bacon grease (reserved from baking the bacon slices)
- 2 teaspoons Banyuls vinegar (I just found out that wine vinegar is not technically Whole30 — oops! Don’t tell anyone.)
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Here’s how I made it:
I gathered up my ingredients…
…and heated the bacon grease in my trusty cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once the pan was hot, I sautéed the sliced shallots with some salt and pepper…
…until they were translucent and softened.
Next, I added the mushrooms and cooked ‘em until they developed some brown bits and the liquid evaporated.
I tossed in the spinach in batches…
…adding more as it wilted. I seasoned the dish with the vinegar, salt, and pepper.
Then, I plated the dish and sprinkled the bacon bits on top.
This dish totally hit the spot with a 1-2 punch of bacon grease and crispy bacon bits! Oh bacon, how I’ve missed you!
The other day, my hubby asked me what my first “cheat” food will be when I finish the Whole30 program. Trust me: As a food-obsessive, I’d already given this topic plenty of thought. Drumroll please…
My first cheat food will be…BACON! (Nitrate-free, of course.)
Of all the Paleo-approved items that are verboten on the Whole30, I’ve missed eating bacon the most. It doesn’t help that the rest of the family has been happily chomping on the salty, swiney goodness all month in my immediate vicinity. Even Lil-O — the pickiest three-year-old in the world — snarfs it down.
So when my 30 days are up, I can’t wait to try this quick collards and bacon recipe from Serious Eats — it looks easy and yummy. Only one more day until I can break out my Fatted Calf bacon from the freezer…
Bacon & Guacamole Sammies
Don’t these bacon and guacamole sammies look good? Fitbomb noshed on them while I slept…
- 4 strips of thick-cut pastured bacon
It’s ridiculously easy to cook bacon in the microwave oven. (Clean-up is simple, too.) Just wrap a few slices between some sheets of paper towel, stick it all on a microwave-safe plate, and nuke away. I set my microwave at 70% power and zapped the bacon for about two-and-a-half minutes. If you find that your bacon’s not yet crisp, just nuke it a bit longer. (If you don’t use a microwave, use this method to bake your bacon in the oven.)
The filling for these “sandwiches”? Chunky homemade guacamole. If you’re pressed for time, simply mash up the flesh of half an avocado, and cut up the other half into half-inch cubes. Then mix both halves together in a bowl to get a nice blend of chunky ‘n creamy. Flavor it with a squirt or two of lime juice and a generous pinch of Kosher salt.
Done and done!
We’re heading over to the in-laws this evening to celebrate Turkey Day. While the younger rugrat napped, I quickly threw together some garlic caulilflower “mashed potatoes”…
…and roasted broccoli and bacon.
There will be a plethora of meats (albeit all factory farm-raised) and now I know I’ll have some Paleo-approved veggies to go with the tasty animal parts.
Happy Turkey Day!