Brussel sprouts isn't a vegetable that usually invokes a level of excitement in a lot of people. But make the brussel sprouts with bacon and a bright and tangy sherry vinaigrette and you'll have everyone running to the table. This is an easy side dish recipe to put together, and the sherry vinaigrette can be prepared in advance, making this a perfect addition to any holiday dinner.
November is right around the corner, meaning all the best feasting holidays are also coming right up. And I bet many of you will agree with me that Thanksgiving dinner is all about the side dishes. They are often the best part of the meal.
And there are so many delicious side dishes to choose from, cheesy green bean casserole, roasted baby broccoli, rich and comforting stuffing recipes, incredible sweet potato dishes, even wonderful seasonal fall soups.
Brussel sprouts may not necessarily come to mind when you think delicious side dish. Sauteing them until crisp and caramelized with bacon and all the glorious bacon fat, and suddenly delicious is exactly what you're thinking.
This dish also gets some apples added for sweetness, which perfectly compliments the saltiness of the bacon. Finish the brussel sprouts with bacon with a quick homemade sherry vinaigrette. The vinaigrette can be made ahead of time, to add some acidity, making for a perfectly balanced side dish. So many side dish options at the holidays are heavy and very much lacking acidity. Adding this dish to your meal will help to create a balance among dishes on the entire plate.
What is the best way to cook brussel sprouts?
There's two ways that result in a mouthwatering delicious brussel sprout dish that achieve greta flavor and texture...sauteeing (like for this recipe) or roasting. I feel like everyone pretty much knows by now that steaming or boiling just results in a mushy side dish that lacks flavor as much as it does texture. Sauteing or roasting brussel sprouts softens the inside just enough to elimate the raw crunch, and it leaves a crisp carmelized outside - no mushiness in sight - which is vegetable perfection.
I often roast brussel sprouts alongside my meat, or other dishes right in the oven, as they can go at pretty much any temperature. Toss them with a little parm and balsamic for an easy side dish, or add them to different veggies and dishes to create something new.
How do you get the bitterness out of brussel sprouts?
Salt. Why does salt help cut some of the bitterness? I haven't a clue, but before salt, no matter how I cook them, they are bitter. Adding a good amount of salt though, totally transforms brussel sprouts bitter aftertaste. This is probably another reason why cooking them with bacon is such a genius idea.
This really is a simple side dish recipe - I did not steer you wrong. The ingredients are minimal, even for the sherry vinaigrette, and are likely things you have on hand. Here's what you'll need:
- Brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
- Onions or shallots
- Apples - any kind will work, but I use granny smith apples because they hold their shape when cooked
To make the sherry vinaigrette you'll need:
- Sherry vinegar
- Grainy dijon mustard. You could use smooth, of course, but I love the texture grainy mustard gives to the sherry vinaigrette
- Brown sugar. Just a touch to cut some of the sharpness of the mustard.
- Olive oil
- Avocado, vegetable or canola oil. I use a mix of olive oil and a neutral oil in dressing recipes always. I don't want the olive oil flavor to overpower the dressing, and in turn, over power the dish.
Swaps and variations
Some quick swaps and variations that can enahance this brussel sprouts with bacon recipe, and also come in handy if there is something you don't have on hand
- Butter and olive oil in place of the bacon. If you don't eat bacon you can skip it altogether and turn this completely vegetarian by sauteing the brussel sprouts, onion and apple in olive oil and/or butter
- Bulk it up by adding kale, spinach or any other hearty green. Looking to make this go the extra mile? Simple...throw in some chopped kale, spinach or other leafy green like swiss chard or rapini or even escarole.
- Use a different fruit. Have a few pears sitting around? Definitely use them instead of an apple! They will impart a similar sweetness and are a total fall fruit. If you do use pears, I recommend adding them AFTER cooking the brussel sprouts the majority of the way (after covering and cooking). You want them to keep their shape and texture, and they will turn soft much quicker than apples if you cook them for a long time.
- Switch up our vinegars. Sherry vinegar is a personal favorite of mine, and I always have it on hand. I love making sherry vinaigrette fro all kinds of salads and vegetable dishes. If you don't have it, don't sweat it, use whatever vinegar you do have. Apple cider vinegar or balsamic would be great substitutes. In a pinch, red wine vinegar will definitely do the trick.
- Spice it up. If your holiday table is screaming for a spicy side dish for the holiday table, then a few shakes of red pepper flakes would go great in this brussel sprouts with bacon.
What to serve with brussel sprouts
This is the perfect side dish to serve with your Thanksgiving dinner, or any holiday party you have coming up. It goes with pretty much any kind of roast (chicken, pork or beef) and is a great dish to add to any dinner menu this fall or winter.
MY best tip for these is to cook part of the time with a lid on the pan. Brussel sprouts are a tough veggie, and they need to cook a bit to soften in the center. By cooking with a lid on part of the time, the steam you'll trap in the pan will help to soften them. To get the crispy outside remove the lid to finish cooking and get a nice crust on the outside.
- saute pan
- 2 pounds Brussels sprouts bottoms removed, cut in half
- ½ lb bacon cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 yellow onion thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoon butter
- 2 green apples cored and diced
- 3 fresh thyme sprigs
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Kosher salt
- ¼ cup neutral oil vegetable, avocado or canola
- ½ cup of extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup sherry vinegar
- 2 tablespoon grainy dijon mustard
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the brussel srputs
- In a large pan over medium-high heat, add the cut up bacon and cook until crispy and the bacon gives off most of it's fat. Remove the bacon from pan with a slotted spoon.
- Add the onions to the pan and lightly salt and cook until caramelized and sweet. Add two tablespoons of the butter, and when it melts, add the apple chunks and thyme sprigs. Toss to coat and cook for about two minutes and add some pepper.
- Add the Brussels sprouts to the apples. Season with salt and pepper, and saute about five mins to get some color on the outside of the sprouts, stirring occasionally. Add about 1-2 tablespoons (you don't have to measure or be exact, you just want a little) of water and the last tablespoon of butter. You want to get a little steam action going, cover and steam for about 7-10 minutes.
- Remove the lid and continue cooking until the water is evaporated and the brussels sprouts are caramelized.
- Remove the thyme sprigs and discard. Drizzle half the sherry vinaigrette onto the sprouts and toss to combine. S
- Spoon into a serving dish, and sprinkle the bacon on top (this ensures it stays crispy). Serve the remaining sherry vinaigrette alongside.
To make the sherry vinaigrette
- Whisk all ingredients together and season with salt and pepper.
- Drizzle sprouts with ⅔ of the vinaigrette and save the rest to pass at the table.