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Ingredient of the Moment: Brussels Sprouts

By Anthony Todd in Food on Apr 30, 2008 3:30PM

Sprouts1.jpgWithin the last year or so, Brussels sprouts seem to be popping up as a side dish on every restaurant menu we lay eyes on. As we happen to love this oft-reviled vegetable, we consider this true progress, but we know a lot of people are skeptical. If mistreated, the Brussels sprout is a uniquely disgusting vegetable, but in the right hands, it can be so scrumptious that you forget you’re eating something healthy. Below are a few good spots to order them, and a fool-proof recipe to convert even the staunchest hater.

Crofton on Wells serves a side dish of Brussels spouts and cauliflower that was so delicious we had two orders. We couldn’t figure out exactly what they did to them, and the waiter was tight-lipped, so it looks like we’ll just have to go order some more. West Town Tavern has taken to serving Brussels spouts as a side with many of their meat dishes. They simply roast them and let them take on the juice of whatever they’re served with, and it’s a tasty idea. But the award for the best Brussels sprouts in Chicago goes to Carnivale, which cooks its Brussels sprouts with ham and spices and serves them in a huge metal pot. If they aren’t on the menu when you go, beg them to bring them back – they rotate in and out.

Following is a recipe that's even fit for a Brussels sprouts hater.


Bacon and Lemon-Roasted Brussels Sprouts

1-2 pounds of Brussels sprouts, cleaned and halved through the root end.
4 pieces of bacon, sliced into matchsticks
1 lemon, thinly sliced (unpeeled)

Preheat the oven to 400°. Blanch the Brussels sprouts in boiling water for one minute – no more! Drain and lay them out on a baking pan. Top with the bacon and lemon and put in the oven for 30 minutes, stirring them up every 10 minutes so they don’t burn. Serve on a big platter and dig in.