I can’t think of a vegetable that I disliked more as a kid than brussel sprouts. I mean, what was mother nature thinking when she dreamed up those nasty little things, huh? Thankfully, my mom didn’t cook them often, so it was rare that I had to feign having contracted the ebola virus, and excuse myself from the table to avoid eating the dreaded buggers.
Sadly, my kids feel the same way about brussel sprouts as I did as a youngster, and now that I have come to love them, I’ve found myself working overtime to come up with a recipe that would make the little cabbages more appealing to the kids. After a few false starts, I think I’ve done it. In fact, not that he would ever admit it, but I saw Grid head back to the kitchen for seconds of these the other night….Eureka!
As we settle into Fall here in the Northeast apple cider and cranberries are everywhere, and I was anxious to put them to good use in this dish as they would lend a sweetness sure to help win the kids over. I use a variant of the cider cream from the butternut squash and apple soup recipe that we shared in a recent post. In this dish, the reduced cider is mixed with heavy cream (instead of sour cream) and then used to braise the sauteed sprouts, it is perfect here, adding just a touch of sweetness and a richness that mellows the bitterness of the sprouts. The cranberries and bacon not only add visual interest, but also contrasting sweet/tart and salty pops that the kids love!
As long as you’re comfortable with your child’s knife skills, this is a dish that they can whip up on their own in little time, a fact that will make them love these little green beauties even more.
These would make a nice addition to the Thanksgiving table.
Let me know what you think – Steve
- 1 pound brussel sprouts
- 1 bulb fennel
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup apple cider
- 4 strips thickly sliced bacon
- Preheat oven to 375 ℉
- Butter the bottom and sides of a shallow gratin dish.
- Take the apple cider and place in a saucepan over high heat, reduce by half to approximately 1/4 cup.
- Quarter the fennel, cut out the wedge shaped root at the base, and thinly slice. Saute in a pan over medium-low heat with a little olive oil and butter, season with salt and pepper. Cook until it is lightly caramelized, and just starting to soften. When done, spoon the fennel into the gratin dish in an even layer.
- Trim the stems of the sprouts, removing any tough outer leaves, and quarter them. Add to the pan that the fennel was cooked in, with a touch more oil and butter, and season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat until the brussel sprouts are nicely browned on a few sides, but still maintain a vibrant green color, 7-8 minutes. When done, pour them over the fennel in the gratin dish.
- Combine the reduced apple cider with the cream and pour over the sprouts and fennel, sprinkle with the cranberries, season with salt and pepper, and cover with aluminum foil.
- Place into the oven for 30 minutes.
- While the sprouts are cooking, cut the bacon into lardons and cook until crispy. Drain on a paper towel and reserve.
- Remove the dish from the oven, uncover, and sprinkle with the cooked lardons to serve.