Thursday, July 12, 2012

Brussels with bacon, figs, pecans and maple

Here is a great way to cook up Brussels sprouts! May I just say I did not just like this dish, I really loved it. I hoarded the leftovers and ate them all up myself 0_0  It was such an incredible blend of flavor and textures! This one gets an A+ from me!
This may not be the most beautiful dish of veggies
ever but it is one of the best tasting!

There were the nicest little Brussels sprouts on sale at the market a few days ago so I bought a big bag because we all like them. I also found dried figs on sale. Last year I enjoyed including figs and pecans when I roasted vegetables. Brussels sprouts were wonderful in the mix along with the other veggies and figs. I thought I would like to try just Brussels sprouts, figs and pecans. This all sounded awesome but even better with a hint of maple syrup drizzled over everything.  So there was a very nice side dish to serve with our blackened salmon and butternut polenta and greens.

But of course, as soon as I decided on all that I had second thoughts… I do love bacon and Brussels sprouts, or bacon and green beans, or bacon and spinach…well you get the idea. I do apologize to my vegetarian and non-pork eating friends and readers but I think many things are even better with bacon. Rather than choose whether I wanted figs and pecans OR bacon with the sprouts I thought they would all play nicely together. I do know that sometimes one can get too many flavors coming to dinner, but this time, the complex medley was like a symphony of flavors working together not in a cacophony but in a wonderfully harmonious  melody.

The day of my dinner ended up being a bit hot, not surprisingly for our recent heat wave in Colorado. So I decided against turning on the oven. I love how big my oven is but it takes longer to heat up and warm air is released into the kitchen when it is on so the stovetop seemed like a better bet. I took a peek online to see if anyone else had cooked Brussels sprouts and figs on the stove top. Lo and behold, the uber-chef and Minimalist Mark Bittman,   had an article in the NY times a few years ago that combines sprouts, figs and bacon with a splash of balsamic vinegar.

 It sounds great but I had my appetite set for the nutty sweet additions I had planned for this time and will try that next time out. I did cook them, as he suggested, stovetop adding some water to the dish to sort of braising the sprouts and I really love the way they turned out, as good as roasted!
Of course, I did make a small pan of these up without bacon for our lovely vegetarian guest so feel free to forgo the bacon if you are so inclined.

Brussels with bacon, figs, pecans and maple

1 lb. or so small Brussels sprouts,  small

6 -7 slices bacon, center cut or uncured…whatever you like

¾ cup dried figs

2/3 – ¾ cup pecans

2-3 TBSP water

Salt and  pepper

Light sprinkle of maple sugar if you have it, brown sugar if you don’t

1-2 TBSP or so real maple syrup, optional

 In a large, wide skillet heat bacon slice, whole or chopped first.
Wash Brussels sprouts, dry and trim off the very bottom and remove any tough or yellowed outer leaves. Quarter. ( Note: if you cannot get small sprouts then slice or shred them with food processor. Shredded will cook faster)
Quarter figs.
Pecans may be left whole or very slightly chopped.

Once bacon is crisp, remove to paper towel. You may remove and reserve a bit of the rendered bacon grease, depending on how much is in the pan. I used almost all of the grease from the center cut since it is lower in fat. Keep any removed grease in case you need it. Alternatively, you could remove more grease and use a bit of olive oil, to make this more healthful. Chop bacon.
Okay, into the same  skillet bacon was cooked in, heat to medium, place quartered sprouts and figs. If it looks dry, add more bacon grease or olive oil.  Heat, stirring for 30 seconds. Then cook without stirring for about a minute. If you stir too much it will not caramelize well.
Stir once as you add water, let it sit and cook for another 3 minutes.
 Stir once as you mix in pecans with a sprinkle with salt, pepper and bit of sugar.  Let it sit cooking still on medium  for 2 minutes until water is absorbed. We are looking for some caramelization not dark crispy browned so adjust times as needed. ( note: if you cannot get maple  syrup, you may  add an extra sprinkle of sugar in this step)
Add bacon back in.
Drizzle with real maple syrup—do not use imitation!  Serve immediately.

I hope you enjoy this dish soon. Don't forget, I really love comments, questions or suggestions for other posts so feel free to comment here or on the facebook page. Comments are the only way I know that people are reading these posts so know I am very appreciative of each and every one!!


  1. Mmmmm... I love brussel sprouts with bacon! Now the addition of figs and pecans.... sounds perfect. Bookmarking this for Thanksgiving. :)

  2. Glad you like it! Brussel sprouts are around here now so I may make this agian but definitely a keeper for fall too! I hope you are doing well and enjoying the summer!

  3. Wow, that is one intense dish. Great for any festive celebration. A. :)

    1. Thank you! Yes, it is intense :-)

  4. Lots of powerful flavors here - very intriguing appetizer or side dish. Figs and pecans make wonderful partners!

  5. This really looks wonderful. I haven't tried brussel sprouts yet. I tried okra for the first time just last year and was surprised that it can be quite tasty. I shall have to put okra on my list to try now. Bacon makes everything taste better.

    1. It is great to always try new things. Brussels sprouts are a bit like tender cabbage. And yes, Bacon does make everything better :-) Thanks for stopping by!

  6. I never would have thought to thrown in dried figs with brussel sprouts, but it's such a great idea. I bet it adds just the right touch of sweetness to them!