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ROASTED BRUSSEL SPROUTS ON THE STOCK – JOLLY GREEN GIANT FOOD?

balsamic maple roasted brussel sprouts with bacon

TRENDY OR NOT, I ADORE ROASTED BRUSSEL SPROUTS!

I admit it, I have a hard time passing up anything at the green grocer’s that looks “FUN”.  And let’s face it, a huge stalk of brussel sprouts definitely fits the bill!   My brain was dreaming up a holiday recipe I was calling Balsamic Maple Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon.   Now I just had to come up with the recipe that would make a perfect holiday side dish!

So, when I ran upon these beautiful brussel sprouts on the stock, I knew I had the final “ingredient” for my holiday side dish recipe.   I imagined me weaving thick sliced bacon between the sprouts to form a beautiful “showpiece”  vegetable platter.

I actually tried it both ways, leaving some on the stalk for presentation purposes and another slicing the sprouts in halves before plating them. 

 

LET’S SPEAK SPROUTS – BRUSSEL SPROUTS ON THE STALK

roasted brussel sprouts

 

Brussel sprouts are thought to be native to Belgium, specifically a region near its capital Brussels, after which they were named.  They remained a local crop in the area until their use spread across Europe during WWI. These lovely cruciferous sprouts are now cultivated throughout Europe and have been naturalized in the United States.

Brussel sprouts are a cold-hardy plant that thrive in winter months in temperate climates with adequate supplies of water. The stalks are harvested at the plant base just above the soil and used for both culinary and ornamental purposes.

I once used the stalks as part of the centerpieces of a huge Fall corporate soiree I catered.  They came out amazing! (The company owner’s favorite Fall vegie!)

 

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST BRUSSEL SPROUTS ON THE STALK

There is little difference between brussel sprouts you purchase on the stalk or loose, but you’ll find the stalk is actually edible.  Much like a broccoli stalk,  the brussel sprout stalk can be eaten once it is cooked long enough to become tender.  You can use the stalks in stir fries, if sliced thinly and blanched before tossing them into your wok.

 

raw brussel sprouts in a bowl

The stalk provides a source of post-harvest nutrients for the sprouts, allowing them to retain their flavor and moisture content longer.  The best brussel sprouts are compact with tightly bound leaves ranging in diameter from 1-2 inches when mature.

Their leaves range from sea green to fern green, with some varieties actually featuring  blushed violet red tips.  Try to choose sprouts that are on the younger side, they’re sweeter and have a more subtle flavor profile.

 

HOW TO PREPARE AND EAT BRUSSEL SPROUTS

Brussel sprouts can be eaten both raw or cooked, but raw sprouts are best when shaved thinly before adding to a recipe. Shaved sprouts make a fabulous addition to your holiday side dish and salad recipes.

The best methods of cooking brussel sprouts are braising, baking, grilling or pan-roasting.  Brussel sprouts take on accompanying flavors which give them more depth and appeal while also bringing a sweet undertone. 

That’s exactly why my Balsamic Maple Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon recipe is so fabulous.  The sprouts absorb all the luscious flavors as their surfaces glisten with the sticky balsamic-maple glaze.

 

WHAT FLAVORS COMPLEMENT ROASTED BRUSSEL SPROUTS?

Here’s some great flavor combinations for your holiday side dish recipes using brussel sprouts:

  • Applesbalsamic maple roasted brussel sprouts with bacon in casserole dish
  • Almonds
  • Butter
  • Cream
  • Bacon
  • Pecorino cheese
  • Garlic
  • Mustard
  • Mushrooms
  • Olive Oil
  • Pears
  • Pancetta
  • Pine Nuts
  • Rosemary

 

BALSAMIC MAPLE ROASTED BRUSSEL SPROUTS WITH BACON

This recipe was inspired by a dish I tasted in Palm Springs, CA on vacation last winter.  I have a habit of making notes on napkins, scraps of paper, or whatever I can lay my hands on so I can remember my thoughts.

When I switched purses after arriving home, I found the crumpled cocktail napkin in the outer pocket of my purse.  It’s always such fun to see what you come home with after traveling, isn’t it?

 

roasted brussel sprouts recipe ingredients

I knew I wanted to use a balsamic vinegar reduction in my recipe as the restaurant did.  But, I felt like their version lacked dimension. So I decided to add maple syrup to the equation to lend a complexity to the glaze.

 

WRAPPING YOUR BRUSSEL SPROUTS IN THICK SLICED BACON

It’s not really that tough to wind the strips of bacon throughout the stalk of sprouts.  You’ll pop the bacon strips in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up before starting the wrapping process.  The slices are cut in half lengthwise to allow it to fully cook while the brussel sprouts are roasting.

Just start at one end and keep adding more strips as you move down the stalk.  I personally found it to be kind of a “zen” experience, steadily winding and working along…

 

 

WATCH THE POT CAREFULLY – I scorched my glaze the first time around!

When cooking down your balsamic maple glaze, don’t take your eyes off the pot!  Do not use the rest room as I did, only to be greeted by a scorched glaze that stunk up the whole house!

 

 

Rather, stay put, stirring the mixture every so often, and you’ll be rewarded with a tangy-sweet glaze that is just perfection on these brussel sprouts.  The glaze needs to reduce down to a consistency that will coat the back of a spoon, so it does take a few minutes to make.

NAN’S RECIPE TIP:  Prepare your glaze and have it ready to use half way through the cooking time of your roasted brussel sprouts.  You’ll brush on the glaze, turn the stalk over, brush on the remainder, and pop it back into the oven.

 

WORK FAST TO KEEP YOUR COOKING TIME DOWN

Work quickly, as the longer the sprouts are out of the oven, the more your total cooking time will be affected.  When the total cooking time has elapsed,  check to make sure a sharp knife slides easily through the sprouts.

partially roasted brussel sprouts being basted

SERVING BALSAMIC MAPLE ROASTED BRUSSEL SPROUTS WITH BACON

If you want a lovely holiday presentation, along with a “farm-to-table” experience, serve the entire stalk whole.  I placed my roasted brussel sprouts on an oval platter , garnishing it with sugared pecans and sprigs of Italian parsley tucked in here and there.  It was gorgeous!

You could also garnish it with sugared cranberries and parsley for a Christmassy kind of platter if you desired.

If you are feeding a larger crowd, simply cut off the sprouts at the stalk, slice in half, break up the bacon and serve in a large bowl.

 

balsamic maple roasted brussel sprouts with bacon

I’ve also served them “half-and-half”.  Cutting most of the sprouts cut off the stalk, but including the remaining brussel sprouts on the stalk as part of the final presentation of the holiday side dish platter.

 

IT’S ALWAYS THE RIGHT TIME TO LET YOUR PERSONAL STYLE SHINE!

Your final presentation will depend on your individual circumstances.  What kind of meal you’re serving, how many guests, is it casual? 

You won’t go wrong if you let you own personal sense of style shine through when planning your holiday side dish presentations.  Especially if you’re not serving a crowd this holiday, you might want to consider one of these fabulous alternatives. 

 

 

It does however, take a little time to plan your garnishes and serving pieces.  Make sure you add those little items you’ll need to your master shopping list and you’re half way there!

 

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balsamic maple roasted brussel sprouts with bacon

Balsamic Maple Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon

Yield: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

These Balsamic Maple Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon are a fabulous holiday side dish. The complex sweetness of the balsamic-maple reduction perfectly complements the earthy flavor of the brussel sprouts, especially when roasted right on their stalk! This is a showstopper vegetable with crispy bacon wound between perfectly roasted sprouts presented on a platter garnished with sugared pecans.

Ingredients

  • Large brussel sprouts on the stalk
  • 1/3 cup Olive oil
  • Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to cover
  • 2/3 cup Balsamic vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp. Maple syrup
  • 8 oz. Thick sliced bacon - cut in half, lengthwise, chilled in freezer for 15 minutes

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  2. Trim stalk of any yellowed or loose outer leaves for presentation purposes. Rinse and pat dry.
  3. Place stalk on foil-lined pan. Starting on one end, wind the thin strips of bacon around and through the sprouts, tucking in the ends. Continue winding strips until you've got the bacon around all sides of the stalk and sprouts.
  4. Generously brush all surfaces of the stalk with olive oil. Salt and pepper all sides of the brussel sprouts.
  5. Place the pan into the preheated oven and roast on the middle shelf for 25 minutes.
  6. While sprouts are roasting, add balsamic vinegar and maple syrup to a small saucepan, stir well to combine. Place over medium-low heat and bring to a low simmer. Reduce heat to low.
  7. Stirring every so often, continue to cook the mixture until it is reduced by half. The glaze is done when it coats the back of a spoon or holds three lines pulled through the bottom of the pot. (see pic in post)
  8. After 25 minutes, remove sprouts from the oven. Quickly brush glaze on top side. Flip stalk and brush with remaining glaze.
  9. Return sprouts to the oven and continue to roast until sprouts are tender, about 20-30 minutes.
  10. Cut sprouts off of stem at their base, halve, crumble bacon and serve in a large bowl.
Nutrition Information
Yield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 353Total Fat 25gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 18gCholesterol 37mgSodium 748mgCarbohydrates 17gFiber 1gSugar 13gProtein 14g

Nutritional information should be considered an estimate only; please consult a registered dietician, nutritionist, or your physician for specific health-related questions. Please note that the recipe above is published using a recipe card plugin, with preexisting software which can auto-calculate metric measurements, as well as change the number of servings. Metric conversions and changes to the number of servings (resulting in different ingredient amounts) will only appear in the ingredient list, and are not changed within the step-by-step directions of the recipe.

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