Brussels sprouts rarely get much love — and they get plenty of hate. This is a dish that will change any Brussels sprout basher. It's a gateway dish into a new world of recipes. Plus, it has bacon in it, so you know it can't be that bad. This is good as leftovers for breakfast spooned over toast. Makes: 8 servings 2 bunches (or stalks) Brussels sprouts (about 40), cut in half length-wise 8 ounces bacon, cut into 1/4-inch-by-1-inch slices 1/3 cup rendered bacon fat (saved from cooking the bacon) 1/3 cup flour 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg 1 quart milk 2 teaspoons salt 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper In a large pan over medium heat add the bacon and cook until crisp. Remove the bacon from the rendered oil with a slotted spoon, reserve 1/3 cup of the bacon fat and discard the rest. In the same pan over medium heat, place the sprouts cut side down and cook until the bottoms brown (approximately 5 minutes) and turn off heat. Heat the milk (to almost a boil) in the microwave or in a small pot on the stove. In a saucepan over medium heat, mix the bacon fat and the flour. Cook together for about a minute and then slowly whisk in the hot milk, a half-cup at a time, until it is watery and combined. Bring the milk mixture to a boil. The sauce will tighten up and should be taken off of the heat. If it is too thick, thin it out with more milk or water. Pour the sauce onto the sprouts and stir in the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with bacon bits. Tip: To make this dish lighter without the cream sauce, cook the bacon and brussels sprouts as the recipe directs, but don't save the fat, and when the sprouts are a little brown on the bottom, place the pan (oven-safe) into a 375-degree oven for 10 minutes. Add the bacon back into the pan and serve.
John Houser III, Baltimore Sun