Brussels sprouts are a vegetable I wrestle with. You see, I don't dislike many veggies. I like tiny veggies quite a bit - baby artichokes, small potatoes, tiny pickled cucumbers. And I love cabbage. So naturally, I should love brussels sprouts, seeing as how they're really like tiny cabbages. What's not to love? Well, I just usually don't like them, they taste funny and bitter and off to me, unless they're doused in butter and cream at Thanksgiving, and I am just not going to do that the rest of the year.
When given the option from my local CSA to get local, organic brussels sprouts on the stem, I jumped, thinking I should give them another chance, and this was a good way to do it. If I didn't like a gigantic spear of fresh, local, on-the-stem sprouts, I probably wasn't ever going to like them. I also jumped, like I am wont to do, with other seasonal goodies and overfilled my fridge. So there my sprouts sat, sad and lonely at the bottom of the fridge, until all the other vegetables were exhausted and they were the last things left. It had been over a week, and it was time. There I was, staring at the refrigerator, wondering how I was going to make this work for dinner. What else masks, err I mean, goes well with the flavor of sprouts? Well I had bacon, and leeks. Ok, good start. But I needed a starch. "Honey, do you want brussels sprouts, bacon, and leeks with pasta, rice, polenta, or potatoes?" "Rice", he replied. Of course he picked the one item I had no plan for. Was I going to have to make some sort of sauce with this? Then it hit me - we make fried rice, and that has has similar bits - veg, onion, and cured meat. I could hit this up with some more American type seasonings - Worcestershire and Frank's hot sauce, perhaps? A little thyme? Why does soy sauce get to have all the fun? So something new and delicious was born, my husband and I had a great and quick dinner, and I conquered the sprout.
Fall Fried Rice, American Style
3 cups day-old rice, cooked with chicken broth
4 strips thick center cut bacon, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 1/2 cups brussels sprouts, washed and halved
1 large leek, white and light green part only, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4" moons
2 tsp fresh thyme, minced
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 TB Frank's Red Hot Sauce (or more to taste)
Neutral oil, like canola, for frying
Salt and pepper to taste
In a wok or a large, high-sided skillet, fry the bacon on medium heat until crisp and some of the fat has rendered. Set aside on a paper towel-lined plate. Drain out all but 1 TB of the fat. Fry the leeks for 4-5 minutes, or until softened and starting to color. Add the brussels sprouts, season with a pinch of salt and pepper, turn the heat to medium-high and stir-fry until the sprouts are bright green and tender, an additional 4 minutes or so. Remove vegetables to a bowl and set aside.
Add about 1 TB of oil to the pan, and when hot, add the rice. Stir fry over high heat, stirring constantly, until rice is hot, separated, and starting to brown just a bit. Reduce the heat to medium, add the herbs, Worcestershire, and Frank's, stirring to incorporate. Add back in the veggies, stir to combine, and adjust seasoning to taste. Serve immediately.