Brussels sprouts may not be for everyone, but it seems they are making a comeback. We enjoy cooking Brussels sprouts because they can adapt to a wide variety of flavors – from spicy to sweet to savory – and with several herbs and spices. Of course, they can be enjoyed as a side dish by sprouts enthusiasts with just salt and pepper as well! We love this version of Roasted Maple Bourbon Bacon Brussels Sprouts as it incorporates some sweet, savory, smoky, and spicy notes without completely covering up the flavor of the sprouts.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Roasting Brussels sprouts is generally the best way to cook this healthy vegetable. Brussels sprouts offer a variety of health benefits that you can read about all over the internet. But our goal is always to make things super delicious. And let’s be honest, Brussels sprouts have not been the most popular green vegetable around due to cooking methods that don’t really highlight the great qualities of the sprouts and often resulting in a bitter and not very desirable flavor.
So roasting is the preferred way for us to cook sprouts to get a nice caramelization on the outside and tender texture throughout without losing the overall flavor.
Maple Bourbon Bacon Glaze
The maple bourbon sauce is made with 4 main components: maple syrup, bourbon, butter and thick cut bacon.
Bacon is a true natural match for Brussels sprouts and it provides a little smoky and salty flavor to the dish. Thick cut bacon (we like Nueske’s butcher cut version) is best for this recipe as it will provide nice meaty pieces in the final dish for a nice texture and flavor.
The maple syrup is obviously the sweet component, but it also provides a unique depth of flavor that brings something special to the flavor profile. The butter adds a bit of body to the glaze.
The little secret ingredient that binds the flavors into one is the bourbon. Reducing it slowly (and carefully – it is flammable!!) will remove the harshness of alcohol from the bourbon, leaving you with a base essence of the whisky that lends a great flavor to the dish. And, although a background flavor, the taste of this element is absolutely spectacular when matched with the rest of these ingredients.
What bourbon is best for the glaze?
Bourbon is an American whiskey that is made mostly from corn. You can learn more about the differences between bourbon and other whiskey HERE. But for this particular recipe, you can use either whiskey or bourbon, although we recommend using your favorite Kentucky bourbon, but nothing too expensive.
Seasoning the Brussels Sprouts
Adding seasoning and flavor to the Brussels sprouts as they roast is important to the final composition of the dish. In this recipe, we use a combination of salt and pepper, diced onions, some of the bacon fat and cayenne pepper.
Cayenne pepper adds a nice, sharp spiciness without overwhelming the dish. It also balances the sweetness of the dish making it a bit more savory. Of course, if you aren’t into spicy or really are into it, you can omit or adjust the levels of this spice.
How to know when the Brussels sprouts are done?
The sprouts will roast for about 20-25 minutes. When they are done you will begin to see some browning and caramelization on the outside and they will be tender when a skewer or knife is inserted into the heartiest part.
Some people prefer their sprouts a little more done, so do what you prefer here with the general guide of 20-25 minutes.
What to serve with Brussels Sprouts?
Now that you know you will have this tasty side dish, it’s time to decide what to eat with these! The flavors in this side dish will nicely pair with chicken, steak or pork. If you need some inspo, check out some of these recipes:
- Spiced Yogurt Roasted Chicken
- Marinated Steak and Potato Skewers
- Elevated Pork Chops and Fennel Applesauce
- Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Juniper Red Wine Sauce
We hope that you enjoy this recipe for Roasted Maple Bourbon Bacon Brussels Sprouts! If you give this recipe a try, click the heart at the top of this post, leave us a comment and 5-star rating below, or tag us on Instagram @cooking_with_wine!
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