Thanksgiving could possibly be my favorite holiday. It is a time where family comes together and joins around a big table. It is also one of the few times out of the year where I get to bring out the fine chinaware we received nearly ten years ago. It is a comforting and relaxing time, and a time that brings a lot of pleasure to me as I get to be in the kitchen all day long. I typically host Thanksgiving every year, packing everyone in our small, ranch-style house, however this year we are heading over to our cousin’s house, as they recently moved to the area, in a much larger house. Regardless of the location, I am still pumped for the day.
Charmaigne, our cousin, and I recently planned out our menu, and as some of the usual fixings are on there, there are a few that might just be a bit unusual on the table that day. Many of the cousins are coming into town which is exciting, and new for the locals here in the Milwaukee area. The Canadians are coming down for a few days, and I am certain that those days are going to be filled with fun, food, and plenty of laughter.
So as part of my menu, I am bringing out a side dish, made with brussel sprouts, those tiny little cabbages that are typically frowned up while growing up. I know that I frowned upon them, probably due to the smell, however I grew to like them, typically served with melted butter, salt and pepper, or with a hint of vinegar. These brussel sprouts are much different however, and are really fantastic. I only say that because my wife is still talking about them.
Lets get started on this teaser of a Thanksgiving side dish.
- Fresh brussel sprouts, stems trimmed and outer leaves removed (amount depends on how many you serve)
- 2 strips of smoked bacon, cooked crisp (fat reserved)
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- ice water
- balsamic reduction
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- grated Parmesan Regianno cheese
Begin by cooking your bacon on a low, to medium heat, cooking it until nice and crisp (not burnt), on both sides. Once fully crisp, remove and place on some paper towel. Save the bacon fat in the pan. Boil a large pot of salted water, and place the whole brussel sprouts in the boiling water, cooking only for about 5-6 minutes. Remove them with the slotted spoon and place them in the ice water to stop the cooking process.
Make the balsamic reduction by adding one cup of great balsamic vinegar to a small pot, and bring it to a boil, cooking for a few minutes. Add in the brown sugar, stir, and reduce the heat, continuing to cook until you have a nice reduction.
Chop the bacon into bits.
Remove the brussel sprouts from the ice bath, and slice them in half, lengthwise. Bring the pan of bacon fat up to a medium heat, add in the olive oil until lightly smokey. Place the brussel sprouts in the pan, flat side down, and cook for about 4-6 minutes until they have a nice sear on them. Add in the balsamic reduction, and shake your pan about, coating all of the brussel sprouts.
Plate, and top with the bacon bits and parmesan cheese. As I said, my wife is still talking about them, and these are great enough to put on a table any day of the week, but will certainly be on the Thanksgiving table this year. Enjoy.