- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 11, 2009

During the many years I have written about food and entertaining, I have rarely included recipes in this column that call for Brussels sprouts.

The reason for this omission is my concern that many people are not enticed by these small green spheres that resemble minicabbages.

Although these sprouts are packed with robust flavor, they are often overcooked or seasoned unimaginatively, and frequently get a bad rap.

That certainly wasn’t the case a couple of months ago when I tasted this winter vegetable in all its glory. At a new restaurant called Park Avenue Winter (the name changes with the seasons), I sampled a saute of Brussels sprouts, apples and smoked bacon.

One bite and I was convinced that even the pickiest of eaters would find this cold-weather vegetable tempting prepared this way.

Although the restaurant’s dish was the inspiration for my own version, I detoured slightly from the original. I halved the sprouts and blanched them until just tender. Then I sauteed bits of bacon until crisp. After removing the bacon from the pan, I added some diced Golden Delicious apples and cooked them for several minutes until tender and slightly browned.

Finally, I returned the bacon along with the cooked sprouts to the pan and stirred this mixture for a few minutes until warm. A sprinkling of chopped parsley was the last addition. The assertive taste of the green sprouts, the sweet note of the fruit, and the salty hint of bacon were a winning combination.

This special dish would make a fine accompaniment to all types of entrees when you are planning a winter dinner. Offer it as a garnish to roast chicken and pork, or try it with grilled sausages, sauteed turkey cutlets, and broiled flank steaks. Just don’t be surprised if your guests pay more attention to this side than to the main course.

Sauteed Brussels sprouts, apples and bacon

Makes 4 servings.

1 pound (about 3 1/2 cups) Brussels sprouts

Kosher salt

4 ounces thick bacon slices (4 to 5 slices) cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 large Golden Delicious apples, peeled, halved, cored, and cut into 1-inch cubes

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

Cut off and discard the bases from the Brussels sprouts, then halve them. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add sprouts and 2 teaspoons salt.

Cook until the sprouts are tender but not mushy when pierced with a small, sharp knife, 8 to 10 minutes or longer. (Cooking time can vary depending on the size of the Brussels sprouts.)

Drain the Brussels sprouts in a colander, then place them (still in the colander) under cold running water until they are completely cool. Pat dry and set aside. (Brussels sprouts can be prepared 6 hours ahead; cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before using.)

Saute the bacon in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat until browned and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels. Pour off and discard all but 2 teaspoons of the drippings in the pan.

Return the pan to medium heat and add butter. When hot, add the apples and cook, turning often, until softened and just lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Add the cooked Brussels sprouts and the bacon to the skillet.

Stir and cook until these ingredients are heated through, 2 to 3 minutes.

Taste mixture and season with salt as needed.

Mound the vegetables in a serving bowl and sprinkle with parsley. Serve hot.


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