Like most children in America, my brother and I hated Brussels sprouts when we were growing up. My dad didn’t care for them either. For years after my mom stopped cooking them, “Brussels sprouts” were synonymous with “disgusting” in our house.
Then along came this recipe, and we all had to eat our words. Instead of halving the sprouts, you slice them. Then you sauté the sprouts with a generous portion of bacon and figs. The whole thing is finished by deglazing the pan with a bit of balsamic vinegar. The result is the perfect gateway recipe: each bite of sprouts is balanced by salty bacon and sweet figs.
So if you or anyone in your life is not quite there with Brussels sprouts, try these. I think they’ll change your mind.
Brussels sprouts with bacon and figs (serves 4 as a side)
Adapted from Mark Bittman on NYT Cooking
4 ounces bacon, chopped
1 pound Brussels sprouts, stems trimmed if they look rough/old/hard
1 cup dried figs, quartered (will use all but a few from a 7oz bag)
freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons balsamic
Put a large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to crisp, 5 to 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, put sprouts through feed tube of a food processor equipped with a slicing attachment and shred. (You can also do this with a knife, as I did, when I couldn’t find my slicing attachment. If so, start slicing before you start cooking the bacon.)
Add sprouts, figs and 1/4 to 1/2 cup water to pan; sprinkle with salt and pepper, turn heat to medium, and cook, undisturbed, until sprouts and figs are nearly tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Turn heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until any remaining water evaporates, another 5 to 10 minutes. Add vinegar, taste, adjust seasoning, and serve.