What’s not to like? Mustard-Maple Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

by Terry B on January 23, 2013

Brussels sprouts are sautéed with garlic, then tossed with walnuts, bacon and a mustard-maple glaze and topped with Pecorino Romano. Recipe below.

To all of you who think you hate Brussels sprouts, you’re wrong. Well, most of you are anyway. And more than ever, chefs these days are out to prove it. In fact, Brussels sprouts have starred as delicious small plates in two recent meals we’ve had.

Quick cooking is part of what makes them so good. Pan frying until they’re just caramelized or even deep frying, instead of boiling them into the mushy, sulfur-smelling mess you learned to hate. So is pairing them with ingredients that make the most of Brussels sprouts’ pleasantly bitter natural flavor.

At Revolution Grille in Toledo, Ohio, Chef/Proprietor Rob Campbell serves what he calls Crispy Fried Brussels Sprouts. For this so-called small bites dish (all of the small plates we ordered were huge by Chicago standards), the sprouts were flash-fried in the deep frier (not breaded) and served with pine nuts, Pecorino Romano, pea tendrils and white truffle-maple mustard. We had stopped in Toledo after a deliciously food-filled visit to Columbus, and these sprouts ranked among the best things we ate on the entire trip.

A couple of weekends ago, an antiquing day trip took us to La Grange, Illinois, where we discovered Wild Monk, a relaxed gastro pub on a charming street of shops and restaurants. Much of the inventive, beer-friendly menu is the work of chef Francisco Velasquez. Credit for the caramelized Brussels sprouts with bacon jam, lemon and sea salt, however, goes to former executive chef Riley Huddleston. We hit the antique mall in La Grange a few times a year. Now we know where we’ll be eating when we do.

For this recipe, I borrowed techniques and ingredients from both chefs above—and I threw in some of my own. I sautéed the Brussels sprouts quickly, getting a nice caramelized char on them and adding a little garlic at the end of the sautéing. Then I tossed them with some bacon and chopped walnuts and gave everything a maple-mustard glaze. Finally, I topped it all with freshly grated Pecorino Romano. It was delicious, if I say so myself—something even most Brussels sprouts haters would probably like.

Mustard-Maple Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
Serves 2 to 4 as a side/starter (see Kitchen Notes)

1/4 cup shelled walnut halves or pieces
1/2-pound Brussels sprouts (15 to 20)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1-1/2 teaspoons maple syrup
canola or olive oil
2 strips bacon
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese

Place walnuts in a cold nonstick skillet. Toast over a medium flame, stirring occasionally, until just golden brown and fragrant. Be careful not to burn. Transfer to a small plate. When cool enough to handle, break into smallish pieces.

Rinse Brussels sprouts, dry with a paper towel. Trim the bases and halve Brussels sprouts lengthwise, peeling away any loose leaves. Set aside. Whisk Dijon mustard and maple syrup together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Drizzle a little oil into a large nonstick skillet or sauté pan. Place bacon strips in pan and cook until crisp, turning frequently. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Drizzle a little more oil in the pan, enough to coat the bottom. Place Brussels sprouts cut side down in the pan and sauté until caramelized, about 2 minutes (check the first ones you put in the pan a little before 2 minutes). Using a pair of wooden spoons or spatulas, turn and cook on rounded side for 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and a generous grind of pepper.

Push sprouts aside and add garlic and walnuts to pan. Cook until garlic is just fragrant, about 45 seconds. Turn off heat and toss to combine. Crumble bacon over pan. Drizzle mustard-maple syrup mixture over pan and toss to coat everything. Transfer Brussels sprouts to a serving bowl and top with grated Pecorino Romano. Serve.

Kitchen Notes

“Can I double this?” Sure, but you’ll probably need two pans to have room to cook the sprouts. And they cook up quickly, so getting them all turned and properly caramelized without burning them could be a challenge. A better bet might be to cook the sprouts in batches, transferring the first batch to a warmed bowl and tenting it with foil. Then you could combine them with the second batch as they finish cooking, adding the doubled walnuts, bacon and glaze at the end.


{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

kitchenriffs January 23, 2013 at 4:14 pm

I used to hate Brussels sprouts. Until I learned how to cook them. Now they’re one of my favorites. My mom always used to boil them to death, so that’s why I never liked them. You’re right that quick cooking is the key. I’ve roasted them with bacon, but haven’t tried it on top of the stove. Looks nice and easy, and the mustard zing sounds mighty inviting. Really, a well-constructed recipe. Thanks.

randi January 23, 2013 at 8:34 pm

My mom used to just boil them too. I make mine now a similar way to yours except I’ve never added mustard or walnuts. I’ll try it this way this week as there are Brussels sprouts my fridge. Woohoo. I love them.

Mellen January 24, 2013 at 1:33 am

We can’t get enough Brussels sprouts and love all new ways to try them (though our tried-and true recipe is roasted with ground pistachios and vinegar and OO). This sounds great!
I owe you guys an email about the best green energy plan in Chi-town, but this is more fun!

Dani H January 24, 2013 at 4:02 am

I haven’t sautéed brussel sprouts ~ I usually steam them and serve with butter or balsamic vinegar. This dish sounds absolutely scrumptious! Can’t wait to try it!

Sprigs of Rosemary January 24, 2013 at 11:13 am

I’m one of those weird ones who love Brussels sprout. (I even loved the mushy things mom made.) My favorite way is way is to roast, but I’ve also been pan cooking them with a surprisingly good molasses finish. Your mix of sweet and tangy sounds marvelous, though, and I’m adding this to the must try collection!

Carole January 24, 2013 at 8:14 pm

Hi there. Food on Friday: Mustard on Carole’s Chatter is now open for entries. This looks like a good recipe using mustard! I do hope you link it in. This is the link . Please do pop back to check out some of the other links. Have a great week.

David January 24, 2013 at 11:11 pm

I am hoping this is not just sloppy reading, but I’m not sure how much garlic to add?

Terry B January 24, 2013 at 11:19 pm

Thanks, Kitchenriffs! I’ve also braised Brussels sprouts with bacon and golden raisins and served them over linguine.

Thanks, Randi!

Mellen, we’ll keep an eye out for that email.

Thanks, Dani! Your methods sound tasty too.

Sprigs, I came late to loving Brussels sprouts, but now I totally do.

I’ll give it a look, Carole. Thanks.

David—No, it was sloppy writing on my part. Thanks for catching the error—I’ve fixed it. And the answer is one clove.

Dr. M January 26, 2013 at 5:18 am

I tried this once (pan frying them I mean) but didn’t like the flavor. It was kind of dishwater-y. I tried to soak them for awhile to clean them. Did I cook them too long you think, or not long enough?

Also @david, when in doubt, I always add Lots of garlic :)

Culinary Schools February 5, 2013 at 5:24 am

I am not a huge fan of brussels, but boy that bacon makes it tempting to try! Fun recipe!

Anita February 12, 2013 at 12:37 am

Dr M., I’m with you! Garlic all the way! (And don’t soak your sprouts… rinse them and peel away outside leaves.) (Sorry if I’m intruding on the advice parts of this blog!)

Terry B February 12, 2013 at 2:19 am

Dr. M (and Anita), don’t soak the Brussels sprouts—that just adds moisture that interferes with the caramelizing. And garlic is good, but don’t go crazy. The bacon, mustard, maple syrup and nuts—and the sprouts themselves—bring plenty of flavor to the party.

Culinary Schools—I hope you do try it!

Steph March 7, 2013 at 2:18 pm

I tried a similar recipe recently. The unfortunate thing was that the portions were not quite right. You could get the hint of the flavor, but if you want your brussels sprouts to stand out, they have to have the right amount to complement the meal. The next time, i’ll try this recipe exactly as stated and hope I have better luck!

Sarah September 12, 2014 at 9:02 am

I make this recipe at least once a month and absolutely love it! The flavors and textures are all so rich and delicious. I even made these for my mom–a Brussels sprouts skeptic, and she loved them! Thanks for such a great recipe–really thank you for all your recipes. They all turn out wonderfully.

Terry B September 14, 2014 at 3:50 pm

I don’t often reply to comments on older posts, but thank you so much, Sarah! And what a fun turnabout for the (adult) child to convince the parent to eat Brussels sprouts.

Amanda Van Horne November 21, 2014 at 12:09 pm

I’m hoping you might comment again since this was a recently linked post. I had flagged this recipe for Thanksgiving dinner and then a friend who is vegetarian accepted our invitation…. I’m trying to keep the sides veg-friendly (though I’m still serving a turkey & stuffing). Any alterations you would suggest if I leave off the bacon? Or should I just find a completely different recipe?

Terry B November 21, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Amanda, you can skip the bacon. There are plenty of big flavors in here. But what you might do is sauté the cut Brussels sprouts in a mix of butter and oil for a little extra flavor and richness.

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