Maple flavored bacon and sweet roasted Cipollini onions take crispy pan fried Brussels sprouts to a whole new level of greatness!
All images and text ©Jenny DeRemer for Not Entirely Average, LLC
Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts With Cipollini Onions
Cipollini’s are an Italian heirloom variety of onion. Back in the day, it was hard to find these delightful little onions. Nowadays, Cipollini’s are available in most grocers produce isles. They are sold as a dry good in the same area as both boiling onions and pearl onions. Cipollini onions can be found in shades of red, yellow, and white. They are smallish disc-shaped onions which appear flattened in their middles. Because they are planted in early spring, the harvest for these tiny culinary gems is around mid-May. Cipollini’s cure for a couple to several weeks before they are ready for shipping from farmers to grocers. When I see them begin to appear at my local grocer, I am sure to grab containers weekly through early fall so as to take advantage of the short window on these little guys. Once you’ve cooked with them, you’ll begin looking for recipes with Cipollini onions and other ways to eat them at every meal.
This Brussels sprouts recipe for crispy shaved leaves which emerge slightly charred is phenomenal.
Trending on almost every menu here in the south are appetizers of flash fried or roasted Brussels sprouts, and they’re MIGHTY POPULAR! They are typically served up in a mini cast iron pan with a dipping sauce. I enjoy them with just a hint of salt.
Enjoying Brussels when dining out inspired me to attempt them at home. Do you know what? They are both easy and quite fabulous to craft at home.
Of course though, I’m always trying to make something really good all that much better. No, these aren’t your mom’s boiled Brussels…in fact, far from it!
How This Recipe Came About…
It was haphazard and largely due to my aha moment when discovering maple flavored bacon some ten years back. Initially, I pondered the usefulness of bacon meant to taste like maple syrup beyond pancakes at breakfast, but soon changed my tune. In fact, maple bacon opens up a whole new flavor world to novice home chefs making at home recipes like me.
I was roasting a butternut squash when the idea hit me square in the pants that the maple bacon would absolutely elevate the butternut. I roasted them on separate baking sheets in the oven at the same time, being sure to cook the bacon just right. You want the bacon crispy, but not too crispy.
The butternut cubes are tossed with olive oil, Kosher salt, and a pinch of black pepper before being roasted at high heat. They brown and caramelize on one side making them super sweet. Almost crispy. And once both baking sheets are just the way I want them, I quick chop the bacon and toss it with the toasted butternut cubes.
The ensemble took a new twist when I fell in love with shaved Brussels sprouts. Initially, I was only able to purchase them shaved at Trader Joes. Word must have gotten out that the super market giants were missing out on all of the Brussels sprouts action. I began to see them offered shaved almost everywhere.
I then had three things going at once – high heat oven roasting for butternut and maple bacon, and now flash frying at high heat on the stove for the shaved Brussels. All combined once completed cooking, the mixture was a fabulous side dish and made an enticing “hash” for Brunch eggs on Saturday mornings.
When my butternut ran out in the garden, I looked to other ingredients to ‘stand in’ for the sweetness I was losing from the waning supply of butternut. Welcome Cipollini onions, the little flying saucer onions I watched my neighbor’s grandmother peel skins from almost daily as a kid. A basket of peeled Cipollini onions is a beautiful thing.
I knew they’d be killer the instant I spied them because unlike every other onion, these caramelize almost instantly with a little help from a sprinkle of granulated sugar.
Do You Have What’s Needed For Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts With Cipollini Onions? Check The List!
maple flavored bacon
shaved Brussels sprouts
How To Make Crispy Brussels Sprouts?
So, the trick I learned from my chef friend Franky is to purchase pre-shaved Brussels, or buy the biggest fresh Brussels I could find and shave them myself. Franky explains that by shaving, the surface area is increased and helps the sprouts to lightly brown and char in the process of cooking quickly.
If you are unable to locate Brussels sprouts already shaved, buy a netted bag of fresh in your grocers produce isle and set out to shave them yourself. And by shaving, I mean slicing through the heads thinly. I can usually mange four to six pieces/slices from one sprout, less if the sprouts are small.
If you own a food processor, use the slicing blade to manage the shaving faster. A mandolin would work well, too but I am too afraid of cutting myself on the blade of a mandolin with such a small vegetable.
Once shaved, heat a cast iron skillet over high heat with about two tablespoons of salted butter and a tablespoon or two of grease from the maple bacon. Toss the shavings with Kosher salt, black pepper, and a tiny bit of olive oil to make the salt and pepper stick. Once the pan is scorching hot, add the shavings all at once. Reduce the heat and cook for a minute or two before tossing in the skillet to brown and char more pieces.
That’s it. I taste a crispy leaf for salt and add if necessary. I keep them in the pan and against the heat for as long as it takes for the leaves to crisp. This must be done over high heat in order to attain that crisp. Lower temperatures will result in still delicious, but wimpy leaves.
What If I Cannot Find Maple Bacon?
Maple bacon may be tricky outside of fall in many areas. But if you ask, your grocer may be able to tell you IF they plan to get it in. If not, any quality smoked bacon is great.
Because I am so into this maple bacon (and smoked apple cinnamon bacon!) for so many reasons, I am linking to affiliates I partner with here at Not Entirely Average to bring the bacon to you directly.
See just above and click on each photo for pricing details. This is no additional cost to you, rather is all about accessibility. And if you’re wondering, these provisions are among the highest quality in the industry. Ask a chef…
Do I Have To Use Cipollini Onions?
There is really no good Cipollini onions substitute. But if you can’t find Cipollini onions, look instead for another mild-flavored onion such as boiling onions or pearl onions. Again, you want to purchase dry onions in your grocers produce section, not jarred, and not frozen.
How Long Do Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts Take To Prepare?
It depends on several factors, but all in all set aside about 45 to 55 minutes for this dish. It is NOT hands on all of the time, so you’ll be free to do other tasks while the bacon and the onions are in the oven for example.
Hands on time begins when you are ready to prep the Brussels. Because these vegetables are being prepared in and over high heat, the cooking time is less than 25 minutes oven time, 10 to 12 minutes stove top. So for all you minute meals moms out there, earmark this recipe.
Modifying The Norm To Make It Not Entirely Average…
If you want to go the bacon route, but aren’t having luck with finding maple bacon, consider adding an alternate sugar. Pan fried Brussel sprouts with bacon and Balsamic vinegar are fabulous.
Then, there are Brussel sprouts with bacon and maple syrup. I first had maple roasted Brussel sprouts with maple syrup at an historic inn in New Hampshire and the method was spectacular, so do not dismiss using a few tablespoons maple syrup to caramelize with.
Can Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts Be Made Ahead?
No. And here is why – you want to devour these leaves the moment they crisp up. The onions will be sweet and very fresh. The bacon is still crispy despite having been tossed with moisture-filled veggies. THIS DISH IS BEST CONSUMED IMMEDIATELY.
What To Serve With Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts?
Goodness, take your pick! I love this served alongside a rotisserie chicken dinner. I also love these crispy maple bacon Brussel sprouts as a homemade Mac and Cheese dinner side. But you can’t go wrong with adding these Brussel sprouts to my Smoked Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin or Fork Tender Beef Tips In An Outstanding Herb Pan Sauce either.
Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts With Cippolini Onions
- large cast iron skillet
- 2 baking sheets
- heavy gauge aluminum foil
- large pot for boiling water
- large bowl
- wooden spoon
- sharp pairing knife
Ingredients For Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts With Cipollini Onions
- 1 pound maple bacon
- 3 cups Brussels sprouts shaved
- 8 ounces Cipollini onions
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter divided
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Line both baking sheets with a layer of the heavy gauge aluminum. Set aside. Prepare a bowl with 1 cup of ice and 1 cup of water and set alongside the stove.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Use a sharp knife to cut the root tip off each Cipollini onion. Add the onions to the boiling water and allow to boil for 2 to 3 minutes, but no longer. Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove the onions to the ice bath.
- Handle each cooled onion by its stem. Squeeze the papery peel, pushing up against the onion as you work. Repeat until all of the onions are peeled. Discard the ice bath and wipe the bowl dry. Add the onions.
- To the peeled onions, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt. Toss the onions in the oil until they are very well coated. Arrange the onions on one of the baking sheets.
- To the other baking sheet, align the bacon strips evenly.
- Bake the onions and the bacon at the same time for 10 to 12 minutes before flipping all over. For the onions, as you flip each onion, notice that its base has turned a nice golden color. Once all of the onions have been flipped, sprinkle the onions with the granulated sugar and return to the oven for an additional 10 to 12 minutes or until the onions are golden on top. For the bacon, you are aiming for crisp bacon without being overly crisp. Once the bacon has been flipped, return it to the oven for an additional 6 to 8 minutes or until done. Drain on paper towels before rough chopping. Reserve 1 to 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease.
- To the bowl used to coat the onions, add the shaved Brussels sprouts. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil, 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt and the black pepper. Toss the sprouts in the oil until they are very well coated.
- Add the butter and 1 or 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease to a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Tilt to swirl the butter and bacon drippings all over. The layer will be moderately thin.
- Add the Brussels sprouts to the hot skillet and use a wooden spoon to get the flat sides of the shaved sprouts to lay flat against the hot cast iron. You may need to adjust the heat to keep the sprouts from burning, but keep high enough to allow them to brown nicely and and char slightly. Pan roast, moving the leaves about the skillet to prevent sticking, for 10 to 14 minutes.
- Scrape the sprouts into a large serving bowl. Add the chopped bacon and the roasted Cipollini onions and toss all very well. Taste for seasoning and add Kosher salt or black pepper if necessary.
- Serve hot or at room temperature alone or with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
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