Brussels sprouts. Those cute little mini cabbages make a great side dish to accompany your Thanksgiving turkey. Think you don’t like them? Try this easy version with turkey bacon and sweet dried cranberries. The combination of earthy, sweet, and salty just might make you a fan of Brussels sprouts with bacon and cranberries.
How to Buy Brussels Sprouts
When buying Brussels sprouts, go for the medium to larger size. If you buy small ones, they get very small after you peel off the first outer layer. Choose bright green heads with no brown or withered edges. The heads should feel firm and fairly hard, not soft, and have no yellow or black spots, which can be a sign of age or mold. This time of year, you’ll have no problem finding fresh, high quality sprouts.
I prefer to buy loose Brussels sprouts versus packaged, if available, so I can choose them individually for size and freshness. I don’t usually buy the stalks. While they look neat, the sprouts are often all different sizes. Different sizes mean some will cook faster than others. Consistent size means consistent cooking and even results.
Cook Your Bacon in the Oven
Turn on your oven and cook your bacon. Yep. In the oven. Not in a pan. I’ve discovered that I like the results of cooking turkey bacon in the oven more than doing it like pork bacon in a pan.
Place turkey bacon strips on a small wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until crisp. The wire rack provides for heat circulation and even crisping. It will take about 18-22 minutes in a 350º oven, depending on your oven and how crisp you like your bacon. Turn it over part of the way through. When it’s done, chop it into strips across the pieces.
I use two pieces of bacon for this recipe, but I suggest you cook at least three strips. You won’t be able to resist eating one. Yeah, you know it. So do extra. Extra is good crumbled into salads too.
Since doing bacon this way is hands free, you can work on other prep work, slicing shallots and trimming the Brussels sprouts.
About turkey bacon. I prefer Applegate Farms organic turkey bacon. It’s meaty and tastes terrific, plus there are no added nitrates or nitrates, stuff we need to eliminate from our diet.
Trimming Brussels Sprouts
While the bacon is baking, trim the sprouts. With a paring knife, trim off a little of the bottom end, then peel off an outer layer. How much you peel depends on the Brussels you bought. Some require very little peeling, some a bit more. Next, cut them in half, top to bottom.
Slice the Shallot
Next, slice a large shallot into thin rings. Cut the top and bottom off the shallot, peel aand cut in half lengthwise. Turn flat side down and slice into thin rings. You should have about a 1/2 cup.
Heat a large sauté or fry pan over medium heat (my pan is a 3-4 quart). Add olive oil and Brussels sprouts, flat side down. Let them get browned and golden. Stir sprouts, add the shallot, garlic and cook for a minute until softened. Add the cranberries, broth and thyme.
Cover pan with a lid and cook for a couple of minutes until sprouts are just tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife. Watch so that pan does not cook dry. If it does, add a little extra broth. When sprouts are done, add bacon and nuts (if using).
You can cook them ahead and keep them warm in the oven, covered, or cook them ahead, cool completely, refrigerate, then heat back up in the oven covered.
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Cranberries
- 2 strips turkey bacon I use Applegate Farms
- 1 1/4 pounds larger Brussels sprouts
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallot 1 large
- 1 large garlic clove chopped fine
- 2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme leaves
- 1-1 1/2 cups chicken or turkey broth
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 2 teaspoons pine nuts optional but nice
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Place turkey slices on a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake bacon until crisp, about 18-20 minutes. Turn half way through. When done, chop bacon into thin strips crosswise.
- Trim Brussels sprouts. With a paring knife, cut a little off the bottom of the sprout, then peel off any damaged leaves. Cut sprouts in half from top to bottom.
- Slice shallot into rings. Cut both ends off the shallot, cut in half lengthwise and lay flat. Cut crosswise into thin half rings.
- Heat a medium sauté or fry pan over medium heat (I uses 3-4 quart sauté). When pan it hot, add olive oil, then add sprouts, cut side down. Allow the to cook until golden brown. Stir sprouts, add shallot, garlic and thyme. Cook a minute or two until soft. Add 1 cup broth and cover with a lid. Turn heat down to low. Cook sprouts until tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife. It will take just a few minutes. Watch pan to prevent from cooking dry. If it does, add a little more broth.
When sprouts are done, add cranberries, bacon, nuts, season and serve.