When I was a child, I hated brussels sprouts. Thankfully, I have grown to enjoy crunchy shaved brussels sprouts in salad as well as crispy seared or roasted brussels sprouts as a side dish. This recipe has the perfect combination of seared brussels sprouts, salty bacon, sweet dates, and sour vinegar; the flavors are reminiscent of traditional Italian sweet and sour agrodolce sauces. I prefer the slightly less sweet version of this recipe made with fewer dates and a touch more vinegar. The proportions of dates and vinegar can be altered to your individual taste.
Seared Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Dates
(adapted slightly from Gjelina: Cooking from Venice, California by Travis Lett)
- 3 ounces // 85 grams bacon
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 12 ounces // 340 grams brussels sprouts
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2-4 tablespoons // 45-85 grams dates, pitted and roughly chopped
- 1 cup // 180-240 millileters pork or chicken stock
- 3-4 teaspoons red wine vinegar
Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and olive oil. Cook the bacon for 10 minutes until it has browned and rendered most of its fat. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate leaving the olive oil and bacon fat behind.
Increase the heat from medium-high to high. Add the brussels sprouts to the frying pan with the cut sides down and cook undisturbed for 5 minutes until well seared. When the brussels sprouts have a deep sear and are starting to darken in spots, turn them over and season with salt and pepper. Return the bacon to the pan with the brussels sprouts and add the dates stirring well to combine. Slowly begin to add ¾ cup of stock to the pan. Add the additional ¼ cup of stock, 1 tablespoon at a time, if the pan seems dry. Use the back of a spoon to crush the dates into the stock. When the dates begin to melt and incorporate into the sauce, add the vinegar to taste. Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes until the sauce thickens slightly. Transfer the brussels sprouts to a platter and serve immediately.