Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Apple and Bacon Stuffed Brussels Sprouts

So it's no secret that I have become a big fan of Brussels Sprouts here lately.  People are SO wary of them, but cooked correctly, they are amazing.  I'm sure you have heard of gateway drugs, right?  Well this is sort of like a gateway Brussels Sprouts recipe.  There is no trace of "bitter" left after these have been stuffed with all sorts of delicious goodness and roasted.  

Print this Recipe!

Ingredients: 
  • 1 lb fresh Brussels sprouts (larger ones work better here)
  • 1/2 cup part-skim milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiano reggiano cheese, freshly grated
  • 1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 of a large apple, diced very small (about 1/3 cup)
  • 3 strips maple bacon
  • 1/3 cup onion, diced very small

Step-by-Step:
Trim the sprouts and cut equally in half.
1 lb Brussels sprouts
To remove sprout middles....
First, blanch them cut side down in boiling water for 1 - 1 1/2 minutes.
Allow them to drain on a clean kitchen towel.
First, cut into the stem end with a small paring knife.

Then you should be able to pull out the little ball of "middle," leaving a shell around the edges.   
 

Prep the bacon and onions.
Cut the bacon into lardons (thin strips).  I'm using maple bacon here because it is both smoky and sweet.
3 strips of maple flavored bacon
Cook the bacon until just crispy...
Note - if you add the onions in with the bacon while the bacon is raw, it WILL NOT crisp up, as the onions give off too much liquid.  Allow the bacon to crisp before adding the onions.  Soggy bacon in not all that attractive.
Then throw in the chopped onions.  They will pretty much halt the cooking of the bacon by bringing down the temperature; and the bacon fat will cook the onions.  Turn them down and cook until the onions are soft and translucent.  At this point, the kitchen starts smelling really, really good!
1/3 cup diced onions
Make the filling.
Chop the Brussels sprouts middles really fine.
The sprout "middles"
To a small bowl, mix together the ricotta...
1/2 cup low fat ricotta cheese
Freshly grated Parmigiano reggiano...
1/2 cup Parmigiano reggiano cheese, freshly grated
The Panko bread crumbs...
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
Minced garlic...
2 -3 cloves of garlic, minced

Dried basil...
1 1/2 tsp dried basil
Dried thyme...
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
Kosher salt...
1 tsp kosher salt
Black pepper...
1/2 tsp black pepper
Mix in the cooled onions and bacon.
cooked and cooled onions and bacon
The minced apples...
1/2 large apple (about 1/3 cup)
And finally, the chopped sprouts.
Fill.
Use a teeny tiny spoon to fill the cavities.  Really pack it in there.
Allow it to mound up over the top.
Bake.
Set them on a parchment paper lined cooking sheet.  That way, they won't stick. (and your clean up will be a breeze!) 
Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes.  Halfway through, I sprinkled a little additional Parmesan cheese over the top.
So we have crispy, crunchy, smoky, sweet, and salty all in one little bite!  
The inspiration for these came from Jerry James Stone at Cooking Stoned, who did a beautiful vegetarian version of this.  I adapted the recipe to include apples and bacon to give it a different textural and flavor balance.. but check his out as well!



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Looking for more yummy, NON-BORING Brussels Sprouts recipes?
Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pine Nuts and Parmesan 
Cider Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions, Crispy Bacon, and Pine Nuts 
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Spicy Garlic Aioli
Brady's Brussels Sprouts Hash

Written Directions 

Prep -
Trim the sprouts and cut equally in half.   Remove sprout middles by first blanching cut side down in boiling water for 1 - 1 1/2 minutes, allowing to drain, then cutting into the stem with a small paring knife.  Then you should be able to pull out the little ball of "middle," leaving a shell around the edges.   Dice/mince/chop:  garlic, apple, onion, bacon.  Cook the bacon until just crisp, then add onion.  Saute them together until onions are soft and translucent, then set aside to cool.    Mix the rest of the ingredients together as the filling, adding in the cooled bacon and onions.

Fill -
Use a tiny sugar spoon to fill the sprout cavities.  Really pack in the filling, allowing it to mound up on top.

Bake -
Set the stuffed sprouts on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake until nice and golden brown - about 20 minutes on 400 degrees F.   Halfway through the baking time, sprinkle the tops with a little extra Parmesan cheese.  Serve hot.

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