Sautéed Brussels Sprouts in Carbonara Sauce

Bacon fat sautéed brussels sprouts are semi-braised in a carbonara-esque creamy sauce, and then finished with a sprinkle of crispy bacon. You’ll love how the brussels sprouts act like a sponge so when you bite into them, and all that creamy sauce squirts into your mouth! This is a handy brussels sprouts side dish that’s... Get the Recipe The post Sautéed Brussels Sprouts in Carbonara Sauce appeared first on RecipeTin Eats.

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts in Carbonara Sauce
Fork picking up sautéed Brussels sprouts in a creamy sauce

Bacon fat sautéed brussels sprouts are semi-braised in a carbonara-esque creamy sauce, and then finished with a sprinkle of crispy bacon. You’ll love how the brussels sprouts act like a sponge so when you bite into them, and all that creamy sauce squirts into your mouth!

This is a handy brussels sprouts side dish that’s made entirely on the stove, freeing up the oven for centrepiece roasts!

Fork picking up sautéed Brussels sprouts in a creamy sauce

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with a creamy sauce!

This is a brussels sprouts version of a green beans dish that I shared a few months ago that’s proven very popular with readers. It’s like an easier, quicker version of Brussels Sprouts cooked gratin-style. Gratins, like say Broccoli Gratin, are made with a béchamel sauce that’s poured over pre-cooked vegetables (typically steamed or braised) and finally baked in a casserole in the oven.

In case you weren’t counting, that involves THREE pots/dishes …

By contrast, this dish all happens in one skillet or pan. It’s also cooked entirely on the stove which makes it a super-handy vegetable side for big feasts where oven space is at a premium.

And, we may as well face it: Brussels sprouts divide people and not everyone is into them. But dress them up in a creamy sauce – AND bacon – it certainly ups the appeal to the detractors out there!!

Brussels Sprouts in a creamy sauce with bacon in a skillet, fresh off the stove
Close up of spoon drizzling creamy sauce over sautéed brussels sprouts

What goes in sautéed brussels sprouts with this Carbonara-esque sauce

I call it a Carbonara-esque sauce just to give you a clue about what it tastes like – creamy but full of tasty, cheesy parmesan flavours with a hint of garlic. (Yes, yes. I know real Roman carbonara uses eggs and no cream or garlic. I mean American-style creamy carbonara!) Here’s what you need to make this:

Ingredients in Brussels Sprouts in a creamy sauce with bacon
  • Brussels sprouts – they look like mini-cabbages and sort of taste like them too, but are sweeter. Look for small round ones that are tight, not loose-leafed and scraggly, and without black spots. Sometimes they are more oval shaped – and that’s ok too, nature isn’t perfect!
  • Chicken stock / broth – this might seem out of place to you in a dish like this, but actually, it serves two purposes: Firstly, to provide a bit of liquid so we can semi-steam the sprouts to cook them through. And secondly, it adds great flavour to the sauce, especially since it gets reduced and concentrated;
  • Cream – because we’re making a creamy sauce here!
  • Parmesan – for flavour and also to thicken the sauce. Finely grate your own to ensure it melts properly in the sauce. Do not use the store-bought pre-grated parmesan (you know, that sandy type stuff). It won’t melt at all and you’ll end up with grainy bits in the sauce. If you don’t have parmesan, adding a small dab of Dijon mustard will provide a similar thickening effect;
  • Cheese – for a touch of irresistible cheesy goodness (flavour!), and also to thicken the sauce;
  • Garlic – ummm … for even more flavour ????; and
  • Bacon – not just to finish with a sprinkle of crispy bacon bits, but also because we use the bacon fat to sauté the Brussels sprouts. It’s SO GOOD!
Brussels sprouts - raw vs cooked
When cooked, Brussels sprouts turn a bright green colour!

How to make creamy sautéed brussels sprouts

And here’s how to make it:

How to make Brussels Sprouts in a creamy sauce with bacon
  1. Prepare brussels sprouts – trim the woody ends off, and remove any scraggly / loose outer layers;
  2. Bacon first – cooked until golden, and also to release the bacon fat which we then use to sauté the brussels sprouts;
  3. Sauté then semi-steam brussels sprouts – Sauté the sprouts for 3 – 4 minutes until they are lightly coloured on the cut face. Then add the chicken stock and simmer for 5 minutes or so, stirring every now and then, so the brussels sprouts almost finish cooking through (they will cook a little further in the creamy sauce.) They essentially semi-steam but also have the added tasty goodness of the bronzing from sautéing – it’s the best of both worlds!
  4. Add cream and simmer to reduce, to thicken slightly;
  5. Add parmesan and cheese and simmer for a minute more so the brussels sprouts absorbs the tasty sauce. Now when you bite into them, the creamy sauce will bursts into your mouth … Mmmm – so good!
  6. Bacon – finish by sprinkling with the crispy bacon and serve!
Close up of Brussels Sprouts in a creamy sauce with bacon in a skillet

What to serve with these brussels sprouts

When coming up with menus and pairings, I like to think in terms of contrasts. So with a creamy side like this, you want a main that isn’t creamy but the opposite.

Something with a tart-ish sauce like BBQ sauce would be particularly brilliant, like Oven Backed Chicken BBQ Chicken or BBQ Beef Ribs. Also glazed ham too!

Any roasts would also make great partners: Marinated Roast Beef or Slow Cooker Pork Loin, Crispy Crackling Roast Pork, Roast Chicken ……..

Otherwise, stews (non-creamy) with their savoury depth would be lovely, like Beef & Guinness Stew or Beef Cheeks in Red Wine.

But really, almost any Western main dish is going go together great with dish. Go wild … and convert those sprout-haters!

Nagi x


Watch how to make it

Fork picking up sautéed Brussels sprouts in a creamy sauce
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Brussels Sprouts in Creamy Carbonara Sauce – with bacon!

Recipe video above. This is like Brussels Sprouts cooked gratin-style, except easier and faster because it's all made in one skillet on the stove! The idea with this recipe is to get a load of flavour into the brussels sprouts by firstly sautéing in bacon fat and garlic, then simmering in a creamy carbonara-esque sauce to finish cooking them through.
I love how the brussels sprouts acts like a sponge for the sauce, so that when you bite into them the creamy sauce squirts out into your mouth!
Course Sides
Cuisine Western
Keyword brussel sprouts side dish, Brussels Sprouts recipe, brussels sprouts with bacon
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 6 as a side
Calories 356cal
Author Nagi

Ingredients

  • 150g/ 5oz bacon , chopped (use streaky, not lean)
  • 500g/1 lb brussels sprouts , trimmed and halved (Note 1)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves , finely minced
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock / broth , low sodium (Note 2)
  • 1 cup cream , heavy/thickened (Note 3)
  • 1/2 cup parmesan , finely grated (best to grate your own)
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella or any other melting cheese

Instructions

  • Cook bacon: Place bacon in cold skillet, then turn the stove on high (Note 4). Cook bacon for 2 to 3 minutes until golden, then remove with a slotted spoon.
  • Reserve some fat: Discard excess bacon fat, leaving behind 2 tablespoons (or so). If you're short, add a dab of butter or olive oil.
  • Sauté brussels: Add brussels sprouts and cook for 3 minutes, stirring every now and then, until the cut face becomes light golden.
  • Add garlic, salt and pepper, then keep sautéing for another 1 minute or until the brussels sprouts are golden.
  • Braise in stock: Add chicken stock then lower heat to medium and simmer for 4 – 5 minutes, stirring every now and then to encourage even cooking, until the brussels are almost cooked through (check with a knife). Don't let them cook through completely – we will be simmering a little more.
  • Add cream and stir. Simmer for 2 minutes to reduce.
  • Add parmesan and cheese. Stir until melted, then simmer for a further 1 minute to to let the sauce thicken more and for the brussels sprouts to finish cooking through. (Note 5 on sauce thickness)
  • Check for salt: Taste and add more salt if needed (I usually find it doesn't need any more.)
  • Sprinkle with bacon: Transfer to serving bowl, sprinkle with cooked bacon and serve hot!

Notes

1. Brussels sprouts – look for small ones about 3cm / 1.2″ wide with nice tight leaves, not loose and raggedy. Don’t worry if they aren’t perfectly round – nature isn’t perfect! More important to look for tight leaves.
Trim – see video. Cut off woody end then discard any scruffy or loose outer leaves (don’t want too many loose leaves floating around, they will get overly soft).
2. Chicken stock/broth – make sure it’s low sodium otherwise the dish might end up too salty. If you only have full-salt, skip the salt and just add a pinch at the end if it’s needed.
3. Lower fat alternatives – evaporated milk or light cream. If sauce is too thin for your taste at the end, then dissolve 1 teaspoon cornflour/cornstarch in 2 tsp water and stir that in.
4. Bacon into cold pan – bacon fat renders out better (ie. melts) if you start with a cold pan because the fat starts to melt as the skillet heats up. This means you don’t need any extra fat to cook the bacon. By contrast, if you use a preheated skillet, you will need a bit of fat so the bacon doesn’t stick when you first add it. If you do it will still release; it just works better starting with cold pan.
5. Sauce thickness – it gets thicker once it cools a bit. I like the sauce to be syrupy so it doesn’t stick to the brussels too thickly. I find if it does it’s a bit too rich for my taste, especially because the Brussels sprouts absorb the sauce. But if you want the sauce to coat thoroughly and cling, just simmer the cream sauce for another 1 – 2 minutes.
6. Make ahead – while the beans version keeps very well the next day, I personally think this one is best consumed fresh because the brussels sprouts have a tendency to get a little soggy when left overnight. Though some people declare they love it that way because it soaks up the sauce even more! But texture questions aside, the flavour is still very, very good the next day.
Not suitable for freezing.
7. Nutrition per serving, assuming 6 servings and no bacon fat is discarded. If you use turkey bacon and low fat cream, it reduces the calories per serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 356cal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 92mg | Sodium: 760mg | Potassium: 512mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1349IU | Vitamin C: 71mg | Calcium: 211mg | Iron: 2mg

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