My husband is a fanatic for Brussels sprouts, which always guarantees we’ll have a stalk or two resting against the pumpkins in our backyard. I remember planting my first Brussels sprouts seeds at Millstone Farm in Connecticut. When they started to grow, I was fascinated!
The sprouts were like spring green ornaments on a trunk the breadth of my forearm. It was tedious work stripping and bagging them for our customers, but even today, I prefer to buy the stalks in-tact from the farmers market. For me, the gentle snapping of each tiny green cabbage from its stem is a meditation.
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Yield: 6-8 Servings
- 1 cup coarsely chopped nitrate-free bacon
- 1½ pounds Brussels sprouts, halved
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1½ cups whole pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped (see Note)
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- Zest of 1 lemon
1/ Fire up the grill or campfire to medium-high heat and position the grill grate 6 inches above the coals.
2/ In a 12-inch cast iron skillet, add the chopped bacon. Cook just before it becomes crispy, about 6 minutes, and using welding gloves or a thick towel, remove the skillet from the grill. Pour off the bacon fat into a small jar, leaving an ⅛-inch deep film of fat behind for cooking the Brussels sprouts. (Seal the jar with a lid and refrigerate. Save for frying eggs or potatoes in the morning!)
*For a veggie option, bypass the bacon and begin with three tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil as the cooking fat.
3/ Return the pan to the grill and add the Brussels sprouts, maple syrup, salt, and pepper. Toss to incorporate the ingredients and coat the Brussels sprouts with bacon fat. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring once halfway through. When done, they should be bright green with charred edges, and slightly tender.
4/ Stir in the toasted pecans, dried cranberries, and lemon zest.
5/ Serve warm, directly from the pan. (Be sure to warn your fellow campers that the pan is hot!) Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.NOTE: To toast pecans, preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread your nuts, whole, in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until dark brown, stirring once halfway through. Transfer immediately to a heatproof bowl or container. Chop as directed.
Photos by Allison Usavage