20 January 2010

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Last year I resolved to make one new recipe a month during the year, using the cookbooks that take up an entire baker's rack in my kitchen. Somehow that didn't happen,* although I did make some fresh peas at one point and had to look up how long to boil them.**

But a new year doesn't require new resolutions, just renewed resolve...

I had bought some Brussels sprouts at the local farmers' market which I had recently learned was now year-round. I had needed to pick up a pound of ground bison meat for some chili I would be making for the office chili cook-off and the Brussels sprouts were just a happy surprise. I rinsed them when I got home the day I bought them and popped them into a bowl in the fridge. I ate a few raw now and again (crunchy and yummy!) as I was doing other things, but tonight I decided it was Time to Cook the Brussels Sprouts.

One of the reasons that I love Brussels sprouts is that my Mom made them beautifully. She'd cut the stems off, make little Xs in the bottom, boil them in just enough water to cover, drain them and replace in the pot, add butter, salt, and pepper, and then cover lightly with a wax paper circle for a few minutes. They were the definition of "crisp-tender" and sooo tasty.

I knew the basic premise, but - again - needed specifics.

As I also had some bacon that was also reaching its Use It Today point and figuring that I could accomplish several things at once, I pulled out the cookbook that is upper left in the bakers rack: The James Beard Cookbook (1959. Well, 1967 in paper).*** It had been Mom's and several of the recipes have her mark, i.e., the date of the first time she made the recipe. Mr. Beard eschews both the Xs in the bottoms and the wax paper circle, so his recipe is a trifle simpler than Mom's but I think her Brussels sprouts are still the best. Also, the next time I make this I think I won't boil them as long as Mr. Beard suggests as the sprouts were softer than I prefer. But all in all? Pretty darn tasty.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
The James Beard Cookbook, page 446 & 447

1 quart or 1 pound of Brussels sprouts
Salt & pepper
4 tablespoons of melted butter (not necessary for the bacon variation)

Trim the stems off close to the sprouts and remove any discolored leaves. Put the sprouts to soak for 15 to 20 minutes in water to which you have added 1 teaspoon of salt.

In a kettle put enough water to cover the Brussels sprouts and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring this to a boil and add the vegetable. Do not cover. Cook gently until just tender when pierced with a fork. This should take about 15 minutes.

Drain well and seve with melted butter and salt and pepper to taste (skip for bacon variation)

Some people like a dash of vinegar or some lemon juice added.

With Bacon

Prepare as for Boiled Brussels Sprouts (see above), and while the sprouts are cooking, fry 6 slices of bacon. When crisp, remove and chop fine. Drain off all but 4 tablespoons of the bacon fat. Return the chopped bacon to the pan and add the cooked and drained sprouts. Season with 1 tablespoon of grated onion.

I added the BSwB to some gluten-free rotini pasta. It was, in all, a lovely dinner that I look forward to making again some time.

Next up? The Molly Goldberg Jewish Cookbook.

*I also resolved to walk to work on days when a) the temperature was above 40 degrees as I was getting dressed and b) if I didn't have to be somewhere immediately after work. That one worked out rather well, so I'm repeating it again this year as well.

**About ten minutes, up to 15 for larger peas.

***All of the books in my home are filed alphabetically by author except for cookbooks which are by size, smallest to largest. If I am able to stick with this project, the one on the bottom shelf right is my Provence the Beautiful Cookbook**** Technically, the cookbook to the absolute left is another James Beard cookbook dealing with Hors d'Oeuvre and Canapes, but that sort of book is usually rather thin on recipes for Brussels Sprouts.

****By which, I assume, was meant a cookbook about Beautiful Provence, rather than a beautiful cookbook, although as it is a coffe-table type book with lots of food-porn illustrations, it's certainly a darn fetching book.


Maureen said...

Your mention of making X's on the bottoms of the brussels sprouts reminded me of a cooking show I happened across once when I was living in England. "You make little crosses (that's what they call X's) on the bottoms. My mum used to say she was making little Christians of them." In that RP accent, it was quite memorable.

Hjalti said...

Everything is better with bacon!