Bobby is a fanatic for Brussels sprouts, which pretty much guarantees that every autumn we’ll have a stalk or two resting against the pumpkins in our backyard. Have you ever seen Brussels sprouts on a stalk? I remember planting my first Brussels sprouts seeds at Millstone Farm in Connecticut. When they started to grow, I was astounded! The sprouts were like spring green ornaments clinging to a trunk the length and width of my arm. (Ok, I know I’m a string bean, but still, they really are the size of a small tree trunk!)
It was tedious work stripping and bagging each sprout for our customers, but even today, I prefer to buy the stalks in-tact from the farmers market. They’re sturdy enough to survive outside the refrigerator (or in the backyard) for a few days. I also love how the gentle snapping of each tiny cabbage from its stem invites a simple meditation.
As soon as the days grow short we tend to flee inside, but some of my favorite outdoor meals are in the fall and winter, when I’m truly in need of a cook-fire to warm my food and hands. (Although let’s be honest, I’m still wearing shorts soooo… has fall truly arrived? #climatechange)
I prepared this recipe on the grill using my Barebones Living 12-inch skillet, because cooking with cast iron creates a high-heat char on the Brussels, as if they were cooked directly over fire. If you’re feeling inclined to stay indoors, no problem – fire this up on the stovetop! The bacon, pecans, and maple syrup create a sense of decadence, while the lemon zest and tart cranberries brighten up the overall dish. This recipe is so simple that it could be made any day, yet special enough to grace your Thanksgiving table.
To help outfit your kitchen, Barebones Living is offering my amazing readers a 30% discount on all their products. (In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a big fan of their cast iron!) Enter code FRISCHKITCHEN at checkout.
A crowd-pleasing autumnal dish for indoors or out! It's simple enough to make on a whim, and special enough to serve for Thanksgiving or the winter holidays. For a veggie option, bypass the bacon and begin with three tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil as your cooking fat.
- 1 cup coarsely, chopped nitrate-free bacon
- 1.5 pounds Brussels sprouts, halved
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1.5 cups whole pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped (see Note)
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Fire up the grill or campfire to medium-high heat and position the grill grate 6 inches above the coals. (For indoors, cook over medium.)
- In a 12-inch cast iron skillet, add the chopped bacon. Cook just before it becomes crispy, about 6 minutes, and using welding gloves or a thick dish towel, remove the skillet from the grill. Pour off the bacon fat into a small jar, leaving a 1/8-inch deep film of fat behind for cooking the Brussels sprouts. (Seal the jar with a lid and refrigerate. Save for frying eggs or potatoes in the morning!)
- Return the pan to the grill and add the Brussels sprouts, maple syrup, salt, and pepper. Tossing to incorporate the ingredients and coat the Brussels sprouts with bacon fat. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring once halfway through. When done, they should be bright green with charred edges, and slightly tender.
- Stir in the toasted pecans, dried cranberries, and lemon zest.
- Serve warm, directly from the pan. (Be sure to warn your fellow eaters that the pan is hot!) Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
To toast pecans, preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread your nuts, whole, in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until dark brown, stirring once halfway through. Transfer immediately to a heatproof bowl or container. Chop as directed.