Beer, Bacon, and Brussels

First lesson in cooking: you’re GOING to fuck it up sometimes. This is okay. This is how we learn. This is a post about me royally fucking up one batch of Brussels sprouts only to have this beautiful recipe rise from the ashes.

I had been thinking about a crispy roasted chicken all. Day. Long. Some people daydream about boys or cars or… shit I don’t know, I’ve never been normal. I daydream about dinner.

I got home and got my chicken ready; I always spatchcock (remove the backbone and press it flat) mine because it makes it cook more evenly and gets all the skin crispy and magic, none of that flabby shit on the underside that isn’t browned and just makes you regret looking at it. Anyway, I always season my chicken about an hour before I want to cook it. You want the skin to be as dry as possible so it crisps and browns instead of steams. This is the same reason I don’t use olive oil or butter on my chickens. Just let that bitch be. Dry it with paper towels, kosher salt and pepper it on both sides, put it on a wire rack over a sheet pan, and stick it back in the fridge to dry out and contemplate chicken-kind.

I cook my chickens at about 450 °F but here in Tampa I think our oven might be the actual doorway to hell because that thing is HOT. So turning the knob to more where 425 would be is about right. Get acquainted with your oven. Know its hopes and dreams and how it runs so you don’t turn your food into charcoal. If things look like they’re browning too much, too fast, turn it down. Like I said, fuck-ups are how we learn. Accept that not every time will be perfect and learn by doing.

I love Brussels. I could write an ode to those lil sprouts. I usually roast them until juuuuust before they burn because that deep brown, crispy flavor is unbeatable. However, my gateway to hell oven and my neglect lead to turning those poor things into actual charcoal. Alas! The night was saved, and a star was born. A happy accident.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of Brussels sprouts with ends trimmed, cut into thirds length-wise (if you don’t burn the shit out of half of the four cups of sprouts you bought, you can feed four with this recipe. Or you can be me and only make enough for two because you were irresponsible with the first batch. Damn it, Rachel)
  • 3 slices thick-cut bacon (I used applewood smoked) cut into 1/4 inch strips.
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • One clove of garlic, just to be safe. Everything is better with garlic and it’s vampire season.
  • 1/2 cup IPA of your choice (if you put Bud Light in this I will cut you. Be better)

The Breakdown:

  1. Burn the bajeezus out of the first half of your pack of Brussels because you weren’t paying attention and left them unattended in your hell-oven. Realize that you should not be a parent considering you didn’t have the attention span to watch a pan in the oven for 15 minutes. Feel extremely guilty.
  2. At this point I thought to myself, “Well, fuck it.” Pro-tip: throwing some chopped-up bacon into a cold frying pan and then putting it on the stove over medium-high heat gives you time to scramble and put together a new plan for damn near anything. The kitchen will smell less like your fiery mistake and more like “I meant to do that.” As the fat starts rendering and the kitchen starts smelling like hog heaven, you can forget all about how bad a mother you’re going to be.
  3. After two minutes when there is some beautiful fat coating the bottom of the pan, toss in your diced onions and let them sweat it out.
  4. Wait for everything to get brown and toasty- about 6-8 minutes. When cooked down and delicious, empty contents of this pan into a bowl and set it aside to think about what it’s done. Who told you you could be this delicious?
  5. Look at all the tasty browned shit in the bottom of your pan and think, this cannot be wasted. Brown is flavorTurn your thoughts to the beer in your hand, remember that you are a terrible oven parent, and think “I don’t deserve you beer!”
  6. Look back at the pan. After a few moments of self-reflection, dump half a cup in there and as it sizzles satisfyingly scrape all the tasty brown stuff off the bottom. The bonus of deglazing is that the pan will be SO much easier to clean later. Lazy and tasty? Sign me up.
  7. Throw your Brussels into that tasty beer bacon juice and let them chill for 3-5 minutes. Stir them gently and apologize for wasting their brethren.
  8. By this point, the beer will have mostly dried up and you can toss your bacon and onions back in without fear of losing crispiness. They’ve just been united, give them a little privacy to meld. That oven you already had heated for your chicken is the perfect place for romance.
  9. After ten minutes, pull those suckers out and salt and pepper them to your liking. Sit them back on top of the stove to pull out your chicken and then touch the handle of the pan and burn the SHIT out of your finger because you NEVER remember to put a fucking pot holder on it. I seriously do this every single time I don’t know why I can’t just put something over the handle and remember that its been in an oven and I can’t touch it. Had to spend a few moments contemplating my feelings that this is some sort of metaphor for my choice in men.
  10. Eat your sprouts and pat yourself on the back because shit, they are surprisingly good and you at least did one thing right today.

In the end, these were a made-up on the fly accident, but they turned out really tasty. Like, this is my new go-to method kind of tasty. That’s the beauty of cooking. When you mess up, there’s often a way to salvage it. When you really mess up, you can make something up and it might just work.

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