I mentioned in the introduction to Christmas ideas week that I know Brussel sprouts are one of those love-hate things that are nevertheless a bit of a staple at most British Christmas dinner tables. I suspect a lot of the reason is that most people aren’t too sure quite what to do with them so just boil them. Then, probably just as likely, they end up forgetting about them while busy with other things so they overcook. I can understand. They don’t really jump out at you on how to cook them. And, for whatever reason, we hardly cook them the rest of the year. I doubt many of us were brought up on interesting ways to use Brussel sprouts, but that has been changing more recently. And indeed with only a little bit of care, Brussel sprouts can become really tasty, such as this Brussel sprouts bacon and chestnuts dish.
A great combination of flavors
I wouldn’t be the first to put Brussel sprouts with bacon, as after all bacon does make many things taste a whole lot more interesting. It is common to add bacon or something similar to green beans in Germany/Austria, and it’s key to a lot of stuffings, such as my own rutabaga, bacon and date stuffing. I wouldn’t necessarily go as far to say “if in doubt, add bacon”, but you get the idea that it can really add a lot of flavor. In Europe at least, chestnuts are such a great flavor of the season. It’s so tempting to add them to lots of things, and I plan to use them more. They work so well here, complimenting the saltiness of the bacon and adding a little sweetness. For me, it is dishes such as this Brussel sprouts bacon and chestnuts that make it almost tempting to have sprouts more often.
Tips for making Brussel sprouts bacon and chestnuts
This is a pretty easy recipe so there’s only one real tip before I get to the recipe. Just watch that you don’t burn the mixture as you are letting the sprouts and everything else cook a little before it goes in the oven. The best way to avoid this is to keep the heat medium-low and add a little oil if it looks a bit short (this will depend on how fatty your bacon is, there should be a slight ‘glean’).
These Brussel sprouts bacon and chestnuts make a great side for a festive Thanksgiving or Christmas meal, or really any time over the winter. There’s so much flavor in a simple combination of ingredients, and all are so good. It’ll make you believe it really is possible to like sprouts!
- 4 rashers of bacon
- ½ onion
- 12½oz/350g Brussel sprouts, approx 9oz/260g trimmed and outer-layer peeled weight
- 3oz/85g cooked chestnuts (I use vacuum packed ones)
- Preheat oven to 375F/190C.
- Cut the bacon in to relatively thin slices. Warm a pan and cook the bacon over a medium heat so that the fat renders and it starts to go crisp, around 5 minutes.
- Add the onion and cook until it starts to soften, about 5 more minutes.
- Quarter the trimmed Brussel sprouts through the base then roughly chop. Add the pieces to the pan, stir then cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for around 5 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding a little oil as required.
- Transfer the mixture to an oven dish. Place in the oven for around 10 minutes until gently crisped on the top.