February 3, 2010
Brussels Sprouts Braised in Red Wine with Bacon and Lentils

The Observer Food Monthly recently ran a series of articles addressing the somewhat frivolous question of what do celebrity food writers or chefs eat when they are cooking only for themselves? What is special about solitary meals? It is, after all, the dead season of food writing: not many sexy vegetables are in season, they've finished telling us what wonderful dishes we can make for the holidays and what frugal healthy ones we can prepare to make up for the holidays. And it IS interesting in voyeuristic kind of way. You can get a holier-than-thou feeling when you realize that three-star Michelin chefs sometimes eat standing over the kitchen sink too. In the end, most of the confessions fell into two categories: simple snack food that wouldn't usually be considered a proper meal, and experimental dishes.

And so I thought of the article earlier this week when I was making my solitary meal. Like the others, my meals on my own tend to be snack-like (a big bowl of buttery salted popcorn, cheese and crackers, smoked oysters on Triscuits, heaven help me) or else they involve experimenting with some ingredient from my CSA vegetable box that I know the rest of the family won't eat. Like Brussels sprouts. (When I first met the Critic, he insisted that we make Brussels sprouts at Christmas, though he refused to eat more than one. Since then, he has dropped that senseless idealism and we get by with only four vegetables on the Christmas table.)

Usually, these solitary dinners made of unpopular vegetables are tasty enough, but nothing to write home about - nothing worth writing about here. And then, every once in a while, I stumble upon something rather good. As I did this week. If you like Brussels sprouts, I think you'll love it. If you don't, you might just change your mind. It's a meal in a bowl: healthy, hearty and just plain good. Looking back after I finished it, I toyed with the idea of adding a few herbs (thyme, for example) to improve it. But in the end, I am not sure it needs it. Really good bacon is essential - the slices I had were thick and had been cured a good long time to give a nice dry texture. And don't cook the sprouts too long or they will smell unappetizing, get soggy and put you off forever. As soon as they turn bright green you should test one for tenderness and think about removing them from the heat.

I would suggest you use this dish to convince sprout-haters that they can be delicious. But then it would no longer be the perfect solitary dinner. And it was so good that I'm hoping the sprouts will still be in season when my next box arrives!

Brussels sprouts braised in red wine with bacon and lentils (serves two)

I loved the way this dish came together in my head. Bacon and brassicas are a natural together, so that leapt to mind when I saw the bacon that was nearly out of date on the fridge shelf. Then I thought of Barrett's cabbage and lentil salad and reached for the lentils. And as the whole thing was just starting to get a bit dry and I was looking around in desperation for something to deglaze the pan, I noticed the dregs of red wine in a bottle on the counter. It brought a perfect rich and earthy tone to the dish. Don't be afraid to salt; despite the bacon it will most likely need a bit of salt and a generous helping of black pepper.

1 lb Brussels sprouts, washed, trimmed and finely sliced (I halved them first and the cut in thin slices)
1 Tbs butter
3 thick slices of English bacon (in the US, I would either use country style thick sliced bacon or even some nice country ham)
1/3 c (about 50 g) green or brown lentils
1/3-1/2 c red wine
salt, pepper, water

Cover the lentils with water in a small pan and bring to a boil. Lower to a slow boil and let them cook while you prepare the rest. Melt the butter in a deep frying pan. Slice the bacon in thin strips and add to the butter. While they are cooking, you can prepare the sprouts. When the bacon is brown and cooked, add the sprouts. If you are using US (streaky) bacon, before adding the sprouts, drain all but a tablespoon or so of the fat. Stir fry the sprouts until they are starting - just - to stick a bit to the pan. Add the wine and stir furiously, scraping the bottom of the pan to get up any bits of sprouts or bacon. Turn down the heat to a bare simmer and cover. When you can smell the sprouts, remove the lid and see if they are bright green and tender. If so, remove from the heat. Drain the lentils, which should be done by now, and add them to the pan. Stir it all together, taste for salt and pepper, stir again and tip onto the plates. If you have some nice crusty bread to soak up the juices, all the better. Consume happily in front of the TV with a nice glass of wine. Or at the dining table with a good book. Or, in a pinch, with a good friend.

Posted by Meg in Sussex at February 3, 2010 3:34 PM Print-friendly version

This recipe looks amazing. Brussels sprouts are so popular right now! We love your blog here at How2Heroes!!

Posted by charlene on February 15, 2010 at 2:38 PM

Check out my Me Meals! You might find something you like, and I LOVE brussell sprout soup, which I wrote about in January...I am not a bacon fan, but like proscuitto...would that work?

Posted by Special K on February 22, 2010 at 10:28 AM

Yes, proscuitto would also be lovely, I think. I wouldn't bother cooking it though; just shred it and stir it in right before stirring. Hope you like it!

Posted by Meg in Sussex on February 22, 2010 at 10:49 AM

I used to hate brussel sprouts but I became a convertee last year and am looking for more ways to cook them. SO thanks and I'll be giving this a try tonight.

Posted by Crystal on March 11, 2010 at 5:33 AM

When I boil a ham I always put the Brussels sprouts into the water and cook them. You need to try this it's so simple, but I also like your idea so might try this a the weekend.

Posted by Elaine From Cookware Help on April 2, 2010 at 8:52 AM

Just the thought of Brussels Sprouts as a child made me want to throw up!! During the last three months my wife has seasonsed the sprouts with Reggae Reggae sauce and I must say the taste is delightful.

I would also recommend sprouts with Honey and Salmon.

Posted by Fine Wine Trev on May 4, 2010 at 12:33 PM

I am a sprout hater previously but then I'm not one anymore since I found this one deliciuos dish that has sprout in it and I could finish them all. After try the dish for a few times, eating sprout doesn't seems bad at all.

Posted by Sophea Lazane on May 7, 2010 at 10:23 PM

Don't care much for sprouts, but I may just have to try them again with this recipe.
Thanks for this post!

Posted by Window On The Prairie on May 21, 2010 at 5:13 PM

I am so glad to find a recipe with Brussels sprout. I think Brussels sprout are very misunderstood vegetable and you have written such a gourmet recipe with wine and lentils, it is on my must make it this week list. Thanks for the recipe.

Posted by Pam @ best Cookware guide on June 17, 2010 at 10:49 PM

Loved the recipes but hate brussel sprouts but they looked great.

Posted by brooke on July 20, 2010 at 12:26 AM

When I saw that recipe called for red wine I was all over it like a cheap suit.

Going to try it tonight!
Good and funny info! Thxs.
Norma Serrano, Los Angeles

Posted by norma serrano on August 24, 2010 at 12:59 PM

Sounds delicious!

Posted by Restaurant Hoods on September 29, 2010 at 3:37 PM

brussel sprouts are very good if you have a good stomack

Posted by CUISINES on November 3, 2010 at 9:05 PM

Who would dare not to check this post. From the title itself -
"Brussels Sprouts Braised in Red Wine with Bacon and Lentils". It's indeed a delicious one!

Posted by Shane on November 15, 2010 at 6:16 AM

This sounds amazing! Will have to try it

Posted by Indiana health insurance quotes on November 16, 2010 at 7:28 PM

I've made a version of this dish, but I used red Camargue rice instead of the lentils. And I didn't have any fancy bacon in the house, just regular old breakfast bacon from the supermarket. It turned out rich and delicious and complex. Thanks for the reminder.

Posted by Paula in NY on November 18, 2010 at 6:48 PM

Wow! Now this looks absolutely delicious! I really are into brussels sprouts now... I'll have to give it a shot this weekend :-)

Posted by Paula Bauer on November 22, 2010 at 3:57 PM

how peculiar that chefs don't tend to cook a lot for themselves, but only for others. Either way, this recipe sounds fabulous and fairly simple. thanks for sharing.

Posted by Culinarian on January 5, 2011 at 7:37 PM

In fact your creative writing abilities has inspired me to start my own Blog

Posted by seo yorkshire on January 10, 2011 at 1:31 AM

Your recipe is worth a try. thanks...

Posted by ChefBlogDigest on March 13, 2011 at 2:59 PM

his recipe looks amazing. Brussels sprouts are so popular right now! We love your blog here at How2Heroes!!

Posted by: | February 15, 2010 2:38 PM

Posted by dhanunjay.222 on April 20, 2011 at 4:51 PM

Oh I really love the recipe. I even tried it at home. Kids love it so much.

Posted by Counter Height Dining Table on May 20, 2011 at 2:16 PM

This looks like an amazing recipe. I just love it when the food is healthy and tasty! :)

Posted by Tim on June 9, 2011 at 2:25 PM

People who come up with such interesting recipes should really think of running a restaurant. Don't write about them, live them
try www.restaurant-sale.co.uk the first site in the UK that does nothing but advertise restaurants for sale

Posted by Neil on June 20, 2011 at 9:47 AM

Always looking for a great recipe with Brussels sprout,
To please my clients.

Posted by JonesJersey on November 20, 2011 at 9:07 PM

Time is very important when cooking brussel sprouts. You want them al dente and not soggy as you mention. Otherwise it's my favorite vegetable to eat. I was one of those kids that actually liked them.

Posted by Amy @ Chef Basket on November 25, 2011 at 9:49 AM

I've been including more sprouts in my diet these days. Bacon is different. Meg in Sussex suggested proscuitto...I like that idea! Thanks for the recipe!

Posted by Matt on May 2, 2012 at 8:35 AM

I am so glad to be here because i love to do cooking although i am not a professional chef but have some really best expertise.I will definitively try this one.

Posted by singapore emcee on May 11, 2012 at 1:23 AM

It looks very appetizing! although I'm not cooking just for me ... This time I'll try! I loved your recipe!!

Posted by Mikaela W on June 13, 2012 at 3:09 PM

I am not usually one for Brussel Sprouts, but in this dish i think i could munch on these 1 by 1. :) delicious

Posted by Lucy on March 18, 2013 at 9:49 AM
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