83df62e5e3f4399b01021f5699f3c4ceRemember when Brussels sprouts were the most hated on vegetable?* Now, it’s a challenge to find a restaurant menu that omits this powerhouse member of the cabbage family. It is with good reason that there has been a Brussels sprout renaissance: they’re versatile, complex, and easy to prepare. They could even be considered healthy if they weren’t paired so often with a fatty, crispy, meat candy like bacon. At least you’re trying!

I prepare Brussels sprouts often, and I rarely stray from this flexible recipe that allows a high degree of customization to your cruciferous craving.

Start by cutting the tip of the stem-end off your sprouts. Next, bisect each longitudinally. You have now prepped your veg.

Heat a thin layer of olive oil in a large frying pan. Cast iron works very well for this. If you like, forgo the olive oil, dice up some thick-cut bacon and crisp it up in the pan first. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and use the rendered off fat in place of the oil. When your oil is ripping hot, quickly place the sprouts in the pan, one at a time, cut side down. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Next, toss a small handful of pine nuts on top of everything. They’ll nestle themselves in between the sprouts and toast up nicely. Throw a lid on the pan and let it cook for about 5 minutes.

The key is to fry sprouts so they develop a nice brown (burnt really) crust on the cut side and at the same time steam them so they cook through. Check the underside of one of your sprouts after five minutes has elapsed. It is almost black? That means they’re done.

Next step is to deglaze the pan. Pour in a little bit of dry white wine. It should start bubbling intensely. Stir everything up. The wine will evaporate quickly – the key is to take the pan off the heat just before all the liquid has left the pan but is still clinging to the sprouts. Place the sprouts into a bowl, add your meat candy, and finish with a fresh grating of parmesan on top of everything.

Remember how I said this was customizable. Every component of this dish can be subbed out for something more to your liking. Allow me to elaborate:

In place of bacon: spanish or mexican chorizo, pancetta, duck confit, seitan

In place of the pine nuts: toasted bread crumbs, Rice Krispies, chopped walnuts

In place of white wine: homemade stock, beer, soy sauce

In place of parmesan: feta, asiago, tofu, bonito flakes, miso, fried egg

Deft improvisation in the kitchen is a learned skill. Mastery of simple recipes like the above is a key first step in that process.. Let me know your favorite way to enjoy Brussels sprouts @SethUnger.

*For the record, radishes are now the most hated on vegetable.

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