Thanksgiving side: Brussels sprouts with bacon and sweet chili sauce

The best way to prepare Brussels sprouts is oven-roasted and studded with bacon.

Pickles and Tea
Chili sauce adds an extra layer of flavor to these oven-roasted Brussels sprouts studded with bacon.

I don’t know if I should feel lucky or left out because unlike many of my American friends, I never had any altercations with boiled Brussels sprouts when I was a child. (Big score for my Asian upbringing!)

Since my first Brussels Sprouts experience as an adult, I’ve grown to love them even more. They’re easy to prep and when cooked right, taste absolutely scrumptious! But yes, there is a caveat – I only eat my Brussels sprouts roasted and preferably studded with bacon.

Every fall, I look forward to their appearance at the grocery store – I can’t help but smile when I spot the unmistakable sturdy green stalks bearing cute little leafy balls. Needless to say, I was thrilled to find a bag-o-sprouts in my CSA box last weekend!

While I cook Brussels sprouts for as long as they’re in season, I think they also make a wonderful side dish for the Thanksgiving table, or for any dinner party you might have during the holidays. They’re that spectacular, especially when cooked my way.

Need more convincing? Not only will you be eating a veg in season, you’ll be THE ONE to convert the naysayers among your guests. Now, who wouldn’t want that privilege?

Sweet chili sauce can be found in most supermarkets (look in the Asian aisle) and is perfect for dipping dumplings, egg rolls and adding to stir-fries. I like to make my own. You’ll find a recipe on the blog here but I also developed a new recipe using chopped plum to sweeten and thicken the sauce naturally, thus cutting down on sugar. But you’ll have to wait till my cookbook comes out! If you’d rather buy a bottle, my favorite brand is Mae Ploy.

Brussels sprouts with bacon and sweet chili sauce

3 slices thick-cut bacon (about 5 ounces), cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 pound Brussels sprouts, stems trimmed and halved
3 cloves garlic, minced (1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce:
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon warm water
1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, chopped

1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.2. Spread out the bacon in a large, oven-safe skillet (cast-iron works well) and roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until brown and crispy.

2. Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels. Pour the bacon grease into a heatproof container (save for another use if desired), leaving about 2 tablespoons in the skillet.

3. Heat the skillet over medium-high heat on the stove and add the garlic and shallots. Fry until aromatic, 30 to 45 seconds, then add the Brussels sprouts and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper and return the skillet to the oven. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until the ingredients are caramelized and tender, jiggling the pan halfway to cook the sprouts evenly.

4. While the sprouts are roasting, make the sauce. Whisk together the chili sauce, fish sauce, warm water, and half the cilantro in a large serving bowl.

5. When the Brussels sprouts are done, remove from the oven and tumble into the sauce. Toss to coat evenly. Garnish with the remaining cilantro and serve immediately.

Note: To make this dish vegan, leave out the bacon and heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil on the stove.

Related post on Pickles and Tea: Homemade: Thai Sweet Chili Sauce

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