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Simple Cooking: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan, Bacon and Lemon

By Caitlin Klein in Food on Mar 7, 2011 7:00PM

We'll add bacon to just about anything, and Brussels sprouts are no exception. Many of us have nightmares memories of mushy, drab, stinky Brussels sprouts that had to be faced and defeated before leaving the dinner table. We cried for mercy and threatened that the entire kitchen would become a vomitorium, but we still had to choke down those cabbage abominations.

But we're grown-ups now, and we've learned better. Rule one: never boil your Brussels sprouts. They will end up disgusting. Rule two: add things to your Brussels sprouts, like lemon juice or freshly grated parmesan cheese, to make them more interesting and tasty. Rule three: don't overcook your Brussels sprouts. They should be bright green; when you get into the dingy, olive-colored territory, you've gone too far.

Try our easy roasted Brussels sprouts recipe as a side dish to your dinner this week. Brussels sprouts are a great vegetable to eat during the winter, because you can nearly always find good ones year-round. You can also saute your sprouts, but give roasting a try; we find that it gives you more of the crispy-caramelization that makes sprouts delicious.

Buying guide: look for firm, bright green, compact heads. The smaller the sprout, the sweeter it will be; larger heads can become slightly bitter when cooked. Avoid heads with yellow, brown, or wilted leaves.

Chicagoist's Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan, Bacon and Lemon

Ingredients (for two)
½ pound Brussels sprouts, rinsed
1 lemon
4 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
2-3 Tablespoons Parmesan Cheese (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
Leftover bacon grease* (optional)
Baking sheet

*We keep our leftover bacon grease in a jar in the fridge. It comes in very handy when roasting in a shallow pan or baking sheet. Used in this recipe, it will impart more bacon flavor to your sprouts.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut each sprout in half. Using a paper towel, grease the baking sheet with olive oil or leftover bacon grease. Place each sprout cut side down. You don’t want to crowd your sprouts, or the moisture from inside each sprout will steam the others and they will all become mushy. Instead, give each little guy some room, at least a half inch on each side, up to 1 inch.

Squeeze half the lemon over the sprouts and slide into the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until sprouts are bright green and the cut side becomes dark and roasted. Using a spatula, remove sprouts to a serving dish. Add bacon crumbles, Parmesan cheese, and black pepper. Squeeze the remaining half of the lemon over the sprouts. Toss to coat and serve immediately.