When my family gathers for Thanksgiving dinner, there are roughly 20 of us there. It's very easy to get away with having 10 different side dishes because there is truly something for everyone. My brother and I are the only ones who love turnips, so we always make a small bit of that for ourselves.
The Brussels sprout camp is also very small. I don't mind. I love them and don't really want to share them with 20 people. My husband, brother and brother-in-law love them. Last Thanksgiving, we went to Boston to be with everyone and I said I'd make the sprouts. I was just going to do a standard roasted sprout recipe. But when I saw this recipe on my friend's Facebook page, I knew this was it. I'm pretty sure the words "bacon vinaigrette" were the selling point. Plus I love butternut squash so it was a great way to get those on the table too.
Well, as I mentioned in my previous post, we are having a small dinner this year. It's no longer just my family of four. My best friends and their daughters will be joining us, and I am truly thankful to be spending the holiday with them. That's really just us four adults though. And I'm pretty sure they are not fans. With their 4 year old and three month old daughters, I don't expect the girls to want them either.
If you've never had Brussels sprouts, I implore you to give them a try. I think they get a bad rap. If you grew up eating frozen Brussels sprouts, you have ever right to hate them. Frozen ones are mushy and flavorless. Fresh Brussels sprouts, cooked properly, are crisp and delicious and versatile to different cooking methods. Roasting them is my favorite. Steamed and pan-sauteed yield delicious results. It is important to not cook them too long or they do get mushy and grey, and they begin to let off a cabbage-y odor that is probably why most people think they don't like them or won't try them. It's worth noting that they are nutritious and full of anti-cancer compounds (which are diminished by overcooking).
This recipe is delicious and a great vehicle for my love of bacon. Easily adaptable, feel free to substitute your favorite fall flavors. The original recipe included chestnuts, but my grocery store didn't have any in stock this early in the month.
Brussels Sprouts & Buttersquash with Bacon Vinaigrette
slightly adapted from Williams Sonoma
6 strips bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled, bacon fat reserved
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
6 Tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4 inch dice
1 tsp chopped fresh sage
I have mentioned previously that I cook my bacon in the oven, then pour off the bacon fat into a container I keep in the fridge to use for cooking. You can use your reserve or pour off the fat from the sheet pan to use in the first step. If you wish, you can cook your bacon on the stovetop, then begin step one with the pan used to cook your bacon.
In a sauté pan over medium heat, cook the shallot in 1 tablespoon of bacon fat until tender. Allow to cool.
In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, brown sugar, mustard, thyme and shallot. Slowly whisk in 5 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Set the vinaigrette aside.
Fill a large pot with about a half inch of water and fit with a steamer basket. Be sure the water does not come higher than the bottom of the steamer basket. Bring the water to a simmer and steam the sprouts until tender, about 6-8 minutes. (You can boil the sprouts, but I prefer to steam so as not to reduce the anticancer compounds.) Remove sprouts from the pot and transfer to an ice bath. Drain well, then cut them in half lengthwise and place them on a towel lined sheet pan.
Return the pot to the stovetop, filled half way with salted water and bring to a boil. Add the butternut squash and cook until tender, about 6 minutes. Remove from boiling water into an ice bath. Drain and place on the towel lined baking sheet.
In your sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons of reserved bacon fat. Place the Brussels sprouts cut side down in the pan. Cook without moving them for 3-4 minutes. Stir in the sage and squash and cook for two more minutes. Add enough vinaigrette to lightly coat the vegetables, then stir in half the bacon. Transfer to a platter and sprinkle with remaining bacon. Serve immediately.
If you intend to make this for Thanksgiving day dinner, and worry about this being too labor intensive, you can do the first four steps a day or two before and pack the vinaigrette, sprouts and squash in separate airtight containers until you are ready to serve. In the last few minutes before dinner is served, finish the dish with the last step.