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Brussels Sprouts With Bacon and Raisins

It's painful to admit this as contributors to a food magazine, but it took us a long time to embrace brussels sprouts. They didn't crack the dinner rotation until we were well into our 30s, with two kids, a mortgage, a dog, and creeping difficulty reading the fine print on aspirin bottles. When we were kids, brussels sprouts—like liverwurst and that weird, gelatinous pate served at dinner parties—were grown-up food, the kind of thing we associated with thinly veiled threats. "Eat up, or else ... "

In other words, brussels sprouts were what you had to endure for a couple of scoops of rocky road ice cream. But with our kids, we could start over. We could, if we went about it the right way, get them to like brussels sprouts. So we decided to try. We brought home a billy club-size stalk of fresh sprouts from the farmers' market and began experimenting. And by that, we mean putting on the spin: "Baby lettuces," we called them. "Aren't they cute?" We shredded and sauteed them ("Look, kids, it's like confetti!"), then tossed them with fettuccine and Parmesan; we blasted them at high heat and dressed them with mint, cilantro, fish sauce, and Rice Krispies ("Can you say Mo-mo-fu-ku?").

In the end, like so many big-name chefs, we used bacon to get the raves we were looking for. We browned some sprouts in bacon drippings, spiked them with cider vinegar and a handful of raisins (kids love a little sweet-ness), then watched as the girls popped baby lettuce after baby lettuce into their hungry little mouths. They didn't know they weren't supposed to enjoy what accompanied (and elevated) our roast chicken that night. All they knew was that they wanted seconds of this magical vegetable that--bonus!--came with bacon bits on top. Now, we're fighting them to the bottom of the bowl.

Ingredients

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 thick slices bacon

4 cups brussels sprouts (about 1 pound), trimmed, halved

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup golden raisins

1 medium shallot, finely chopped

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Directions

1. Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and cook, turning occasionally, until crisp, about 5 minutes.

2. Using tongs, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Let cool. Coarsely crumble. (Make sure crumbled bacon is unreachable by children, or it will disappear before you need it again.)

3. While bacon cools, add brussels sprouts to drippings in skillet; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until well browned in spots and beginning to soften, 5–7 minutes.

4. Reduce heat to low and add raisins, shallot, and butter; cook, stirring often, until shallot is soft, about 3 minutes. Add broth to skillet; increase heat and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan.

5. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until broth has evaporated, 1–2 minutes. Stir in vinegar and crumbled bacon. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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