I decided to make this recipe after watching The Minimalist (Mark Bittman) cook it on the NYTimes video archives. To be honest, I don't like brussels sprouts (BS) very much; I've cooked them before and they've turned out alright, but I've never really appreciated the taste. Perhaps it's because I've overcooked them too often (which results in the BS releasing glucosinolate sinigrin, this nasty sulfurous odor), who knows? So I decided to give them another shot. Conclusion: I still don't like them (I did not smell the sinigrin this time), and no matter how hard I force myself, I'll probably never get my tongue around the bitter taste of the BS. This recipe is great for BS lovers, as the sweet figs soften the taste of the BS, while the vinegar gives the vegetables some much needed acidity. But to everyone else who can't stand BS, I recommend staying away from these mini green monsters (don't believe the BS about BS resembling mini cabbages, because they taste nothing like their bigger brethren).
4 to 8 ounces bacon, chopped
1 pound Brussels sprouts, stems trimmed
1 cup dried figs, stemmed and quartered
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, or more to taste.
1. Put a large skillet over medium heat and add oil, then bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to crisp, 5 to 8 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, put sprouts feed tube of a food processor equipped with a slicing attachment and shred. (You can also do this with a mandoline or a knife.)
3. Add sprouts, figs and 1/4 cup water to pan; sprinkle with salt and pepper, turn heat to medium, and cook, undisturbed, until sprouts and figs are nearly tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Turn heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until any remaining water evaporates, another 5 to 10 minutes. Add vinegar, taste, adjust seasoning and serve.
Yield: 4 servings.