Once again, yesterday I was reminded why I like brussels sprouts, especially on a day like Thanksgiving. As a fall vegetable they really work, they have lots of flavor and I love their green addition, but I’m disappointed when they turn out bitter and either undercooked and hard, or overcooked and mushy.
Bacon is always a solution, its smokiness can mask some of that off flavor, and roasting sprouts is an interesting compromise. That is, until the oven is taken over by turkey and other sides and sprouts get shifted down in priority.
So, here’s my solution. I’ve discovered that brussels sprouts cook in a flash in the microwave, and when an everyday balsamic vinegar is pulled into the equation, things really shift. The sweet-sour action tends to balance out any potential bitterness, and used judiciously, balsamic vinegar adds dimension and is hardly detectable.
I dribble on a dash of balsamic when precooking the halved brussels sprouts for 2 to 3 minutes in the microwave—before all the madness begins. Then, it’s a simple matter of quickly reheating them with the precooked smoky bacon and perhaps a bit of onion, plus another dribble of balsamic for re-enforcement. Give it a taste before serving and add another dribble, if so inclined.
It’s that easy and so tasty.
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Balsamic
1-pound brussels sprouts, trim and cut in half lengthwise
3 slices pepper bacon, cut into strips
½ small red onion, peel and slice
1 Tbsp olive oil, divided
½ tsp each salt and pepper
2-3 tsp balsamic vinegar, to taste
- Ahead, cook bacon in microwave between toweling until crisp, about 2 minutes total. In microwaveable bowl, toss onion with 1 tsp oil and heat in microwave until it softens and begins to color, 2 minutes. Set aside.
- Toss the brussels sprouts with remaining olive oil, salt and pepper, and 1 teaspoon balsamic. Microwave 2-3 minutes uncovered. Set aside until needed.
- To finish, reheat the sprouts with 1 additional teaspoon balsamic, the bacon and onion on top in microwave, 1-2 minutes. Drizzle lightly with balsamic vinegar to taste, toss and serve. Serves 4.