I worked from home on Friday, waiting patiently for the exterminator, who, of course, never showed. It's all very Beckettian, but I digress. The important part: I worked from home, which normally means ordering lunch in to save time and avoid being away from the laptop for too long. However, given the financial situation these days, I've been shamed into being a bit more frugal. So, ordering in is out, cooking in is, well, in.
I decided to roast a chicken leg alongside the season's first batch of brussels sprouts (Yay!). Given this was a celebratory occasion - brussels sprouts being quite possibly my favorite winter vegetable - bacon seemed in order, too. And, since it would be about five minutes' prep work, it fit into my agenda - being continuously available when not in the office so as not to look like a slacker.
Cleaning and trimming the sprouts is pretty quick work. My method is to trim the root off the bottom, which brings most of the outer leaves with it, leaving very little for you to actually peel back. The fresh sprouts smell a bit like raw broccoli - crisply peppery and generally green. I would be lying if I said I don't occasionally nibble on the root trimmings, which squeak and snap between your teeth.
Once roasted or sauteed, though, the sprouts are tender and nutty, and slightly stinky - just like broccoli. (And, just like broccoli, they're terrible when overcooked or boiled beyond recognition - please don't commit this crime against food-manity.) If you like your sprouts well-done, the charred bits are nice and chewy. They go well with anything, in my opinion, but shine brightest when paired with a bit of animal fat, either bacon or schmaltz, and dressed with some balsamic vinegar and a bit of parmesan cheese.
I nestled the chicken leg in the pile of prepped sprouts, sprinkled the lot with olive oil, salt and pepper, and tucked the pan into the oven to roast for about half an hour while I went back to being a responsible employee. My reward: the best lunch I'd had all week, consumed in my pajamas.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar and Bacon
1 1/2 tbs. olive oil, divided
2 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch lardons
1/2 pound brussels sprouts, cleaned, trimmed and sliced in half lengthwise
1 tbs. good balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a medium skillet, heat 1/2 tbs. of the olive oil over high heat until hot. Reduce heat to medium and add the bacon to the skillet. Saute until the fat rendered and the bacon is slightly crisped. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve. Pour all but 1 tsp. of the bacon fat from the pan.
Add the sprouts to the pan and toss in the remaining bacon fat and the remaining tablespoon of oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and place the skillet in the oven. Roast sprouts to desired level of done-ness, about 25 to 30 minutes for me. Remove skillet from the oven and toss the sprouts with the reserved bacon and the balsamic vinegar. Adjust seasonings and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.