There are some foods and ingredients that are risky to put on a camp menu. These are items that some folks consider delicacies, but at least as many people believe they don’t like. Think about it, and I’ll bet you can name a number of them like sauerkraut, liver, Lima beans, haggis (well, there may be no hope for haggis). Brussels sprouts have to be near the top of this unfortunate list.
Yet for a camp cook who takes pride in his or her work, few rewards are as sweet as the smile on a face of a diner turned from being a “hater” into a “lover”—as in “I love Brussels sprouts … the way YOU make them!” Besides Brussel sprouts are really good for you. They even call them one of the new-fangled Super Foods!
That’s what I’m trying to create with Brussels sprouts—a recipe that will win the hearts and palettes of those willing to “just try one.” Here’s the best I’ve come up with so far:
Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Raisins
- 1 dozen medium-sized Brussels sprouts, cleaned up and halved through the stem
- 2 strips of good bacon
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- red wine
- balsamic vinegar
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- In an oven-safe cast iron fry pan, fry the bacon until it’s about ¾ done, then set the strips aside.
- Sautee the Brussels sprouts in the hot bacon grease, flat side down first, on medium heat until they are golden brown. Then turn them over and sautee a bit more.
- Chop the semi-cooled bacon strips into half-inch pieces.
- Have all of the rest of ingredients close at hand, then turn down the heat and sprinkle brown sugar evenly over the sprouts. Watch carefully as the sugar melts. Stir as frequently as needed so any sugar that reached the pan won’t burn.
- As soon as the sugar is melted add a few splashes of the red wine to deglaze the pan.
- When the wine starts bubbling, add a splash of the vinegar.
- Put the bacon pieces back into the pan. Stir over the heat, then move the fry pan to the oven.
- Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes, then sprinkle in a handful of raisins and stir.
- Put the pan back in the oven, but turn off the heat.
- Keep in oven until you’re ready to serve in a few minutes.
An experienced cast iron cook will look at this recipe and see how easily it could be converted to open fire and Dutch oven methods.
Serve 6-8 halves per person.