My favourite holiday has always been Thanksgiving, but every day is a day to give thanks.

Brussels Sprouts with Smoked Bacon, Maple, and Walnuts

The narrative of Thanksgiving as a time of peace and harmony, a time of giving thanks is a beautiful one.  While I celebrate that, even love it, I also know that the origin of Thanksgiving is bathed in genocide and the erasure of a diverse and noble culture and its people.  Celebration of Thanksgiving must have two faces.  It is too late to self-flagellate for the horrors committed by our ancestors, but to know it, embrace it, and to live respectfully is in part to atone and grow from it. Honour what we have lost so that we can carry it with us in our hearts.

Every day for me is now one of Thanksgiving.  Mistress is waking me up to the beauty of the world, to its poignance, to expressing love to those around me.  We have only one go in this life; make it count.

I offer this deliciously sweet New England dish for the tears and sorrow it contains, but also for beauty and lust for the future. If you do not like the piquancy of hot pepper, leave out the cayenne, though I feel its presence is necessary for the emotional tone of the dish.

  • 500 g organic brussels sprouts, stemmed and halved
  • 1 plump clove of garlic, minced
  • 50 g of smoked organic bacon, dry cure if possible, cut into thin slices
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1 cup of dry white wine, such as a sauvignon blanc
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup of natural maple syrup
  • 4 tablespoons of coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 3 tablespoons of dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped flat leaf parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Using a cast iron pan, saute the bacon over medium-high heat until just cooked.  Toss in the garlic, and continue until just sweated, about 1 minute.  Toss in the brussels sprouts, add the wine and using a wooden spoon, deglaze, and then cover the pan.  Reduce the heat to medium, just enough to keep the wine steaming and evaporating, and cook for about 5 minutes.

Pay attention, as you do not want the liquid to completely go, but you do want it to have cooked to the point of becoming a sauce.  Test the brussels sprouts for doneness—I like them to bite back, but others I know will like them soft and pliable.  Adjust cooking time to suit your taste.  The sauce should no longer be liquid, but clinging to the brussels sprouts.

Add the lemon juice, the paprika and cayenne, and stir to coat and distribute evenly.  Off the heat, add the maple syrup, toss in the walnuts and cranberries, and again stir to coat.  Add the parsley, adjust seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve it hot.  Serves 4 generously as a side.  Divine.

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