Brussels sprouts are one of those classic things you either love or hate. There is very little middle ground when it comes to them. And the faces people make to express their dislike for these cute little round members of the brassica family are among the classics in the annals of food dislike.
I happen to like brussels sprouts, but it wasn't always so. In my household when I was a child, they were, like most vegetables of the 50's, cooked into a grayish mush that guaranteed that no child alive could or would like them. I am sad to say that in this particular era in food history my mother took similar approaches with zucchini, asparagus and anything else green from the garden. Fortunately her tact changed as he children grew.
Recently I have cooked brussels sprouts two different ways that were well loved in our household and not just because the both involved the contribution of bacon or pancetta, although it never hurts, does it? These are both incredibly simple recipes. The first involves shredding the sprouts as if one were making mini-cole slaw out of mini-cabbages and sauteing them; the second just calls for them to be halved, but then roasted. Try either of them with pork or chicken on a chilly Fall evening.
Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta
2o Brussels Sprouts; halved and then sliced thinly
3 oz. Pancetta; diced fine
1 oz. olive oil
S&P to taste (but I like a lot of black pepper on my brussles sprouts)
Water or chicken stock
Heat a heavy saute pan over the flame and add the olive oil and pancetta. Cook until the pancetta begins to crisp slightly and throws a bit of oil. Add the shredded sprouts and toss with the liquid in the pan until they begin to wilt slightly. Add about two ounces of water of stock to the sprouts and toss again. Cook for a minute or two until the liquid is nearly absorbed and serve.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
20 Brussels Sprouts, halved
2 Thick slices of smoked bacon cut into 1/2" pieces
S&P to taste
Water or chicken stock
Pre-heat the oven to 400 while you are halving the sprouts. Put the cut bacon into an oven proof saute pan and add the sprouts. Cook in the oven until the bacon begins to render, then toss to mix. Return to the oven and cook until the bacon is almost cooked through. Add an ounce or two of water or stock, toss and return to the oven for another three or four minutes.
The sprouts will have lost a bit of color, but are, at this point, ready.