Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon Sherry Cream

David Reamer / Toro Bravo
Jean-Pierre Moullé and I were roasting chickens to go with brussels sprouts when he told me I should try opening the brussels and flash-sautéing them, because they're delicious that way. That's how I've cooked them ever since. The bacon-and-cream combo -- along with bourbon -- is a classic Southern thing; I put a Spanish twist on it with the sherry.

You'll want to serve these sprouts with bigger, bolder dishes, like the Coppa steak or Chicken and Clams Cataplana.

Sherry Cream Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup double Applewood-smoked bacon, diced (cheaper ends and pieces are great for this)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced 
  • 2 tablespoons sherry 
  • 2 cups heavy cream 
  • Salt and pepper
  • 5 sage leaves, rolled and sliced thinly into a chiffonade

Brussels Sprouts:

  • 2 pounds brussels sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
Sherry Cream Sauce

1. Place a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, then the bacon, and sauté until nicely browned, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the diced onion to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the sherry to deglaze the pan and cook for 1 minute, until it has reduced by about half. Add the cream, salt, and pepper, bring to a simmer. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Brussels Sprouts

1. Using a melon baller, scoop out the core of each brussels sprout, taking care to leave as much leaf behind as possible. The core is naturally more bitter, because flavors intensify in that area, so we like to remove it. Break apart the leaves of the brussels in a large bowl.

2. Place a large sauté pan (14 inches wide) or 2 medium sauté pans over high heat. Add the butter and olive oil and cook until the butter releases most of its water and begins to brown.

3. Add all of the brussels sprout leaves in a fairly even layer in the pan. You should hear loud crackling at the beginning. Resist the urge to stir until the brussels have been in the pan for about a minute. After that initial stir, you'll still want to be pretty conservative with the stirring -- stirring very occasionally so that the brussels wilt, release their water, and brown -- for about 10 minutes. Add the salt and pepper.
4. Stir the sauce into the brussels in the pan and simmer for a couple minutes, until the brussels are well coated but the sauce has cooked down and is no longer wet. Season to taste and serve. 

From Toro Bravo: Recipes. Stories. No Bull. by Liz Crain and John Gorham, McSweeney's Insatiables, 2013. Copyright © John Gorham and Liz Crain.

Serves 4-6
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