Thursday, February 23, 2012

Shredded Brussels Sprouts Sauté With Bacon and Pecans

I just ate an entire recipe’s worth of this Shredded Brussels Sprouts Sauté, a dish that is supposed to serve four. I’ll admit I’ve done far unhealthier things, such as snarfing entire pints of Haagen-Dazs or large bags of tortilla chips in single sittings, but I really felt like I was bingeing at lunch here. Maybe it’s the addition of bacon and toasted pecans on top of the shredded sauté that made it feel like a guilty pleasure.

How did I become so crazy about brussels sprouts? I can’t seem to get enough of them these days, which is odd considering how I used to avoid them like the plague. Even though they look like adorable miniature cabbages, I think many of us have bad childhood associations of soggy sprouts, boiled to within an inch of their lives and woefully underseasoned.

Yet clearly I got over my distaste for them, for this is my second post about this much-maligned vegetable in just under 15 months, so go figure. Roasting them with bacon and garlic brings out an earthy richness, a la this version. It’s definitely a great way to go. And if you don’t feel like turning on your oven, this sauté puts a delightful fresh spin on those tiny cabbages.

A food processor fitted with the shredding disc makes light work of the prep. If you have good knife skills and a sharp blade, you can also manually slice the little green globes into thin ribbons. You’ll need a knife anyway for chopping up the bacon and pecans that add a touch of decadence and color to the otherwise spring-green dish.

Not only does shredding the brussels sprouts alter their texture dramatically, but they taste remarkably clean and bright when lightly sautéed. There’s none of the bitterness that I often associate with the whole little orbs, and I find the taste reminiscent of thinly sliced broccoli stems. (I happen to love steamed broccoli stems, almost more than the florets themselves.) It’s familiar yet still intriguing.

Once again I need to thank Julie for introducing me to yet another recipe at her Thanksgiving table, one that I find myself compelled to make on my own and then share with all of you. (Thank you, Julie!) This recipe was one of many side dishes with a twist in the Bon Appetit Thanksgiving issue a year ago. I think that these shredded brussels sprouts are festive enough for a special occasion, yet totally satisfying for a solo lunch at home.

One Year Ago: Chocolate Malt Ice Cream
Two Years Ago: Roasted Cauliflower Soup
Three Years Ago: Coconut Cupcakes

Adapted from a recipe in Bon Appetit, November 2010

The original recipe calls for country smoked ham, but I usually have bacon in my fridge, so that was a no-brainer substitution for me.

1 pound brussels sprouts, washed and patted dry, root ends trimmed
4 slices hickory smoked bacon, cut into ¼-inch slices
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/3 cup vegetable broth or low-sodium chicken broth
salt and pepper
¼ cup pecans, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped

If you have a food processor, coarsely shred the brussels sprouts using the shredding blade attachment. You can also do this manually with a sharp knife, slicing the brussels sprouts lengthwise into thin shreds.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the bacon pieces and cook, stirring frequently until the fat is rendered and the bacon begins to crisp around the edges, around 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and drain off the rendered bacon fat. (I do this by pushing the bacon to one side and adding paper towels to the pan absorb the rendered fat, then removing the towels using a pair of tongs.)

Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add the minced garlic to the bacon and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the shredded brussels sprouts and the broth, cooking until just tender-crisp and bright green, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with chopped pecans. Makes 4 generous servings.

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