Note: I don’t use the name “brussels” sprouts. Like most non-assholes, I refer to them as “brussel” sprouts. Being a stickler for grammatical precision, however, I will refer to the sprouts using their correct name. Feel free to ignore the unnecessary and pompous “s.”

Many people aren’t down with the cabbage-y funk of brussels sprouts. Personally, I can admit that they are among the acquired tastes of the vegetable world, but my beloved sprouts are by no means the gnarliest motherfucker in the produce section (I’m looking at you, horseradish). Like most non-leafy members of the Brassica family (broccoli, cauliflower, romanesco), I most often roast my brussels sprouts in a hot oven with little more than some olive oil, kosher salt, and fresh black pepper. And that’s really a fine way to enjoy your cabbage. However, I opted for a more flavorful stove-top approach that I first enjoyed at Momofuku, one of my favorite downtown restaurants.

All that is really needed for this application, aside from brussels sprouts and seasonings, is some sort of bacon. Everyone knows that bacon just makes everything better, Jews and Muslims included. I opted for pancetta, but anything cured, fatty, and/or smoked will do nicely.

Size really doesn't matter, in this case. It's all yummy.

Halved and whole, green and fresh.

Start by trimming off the stem end from your sprouts and then halve them lengthwise (tiny sprouts can just be left whole). There will be some stray leaves that will come off, but don’t throw them away! They crisp up very nicely in the pan, so just set them aside in a pile. With that done, dice your pork into bite-sized pieces and put it into a cold pan, wide as you can get, and put it over medium heat. The trick here is to slowly render the fat out of the pork. Just keep them moving every few minutes and everything should be fine. The pieces should not really brown for a few minutes, essentially until there is a fair amount of fat in the pan. The French call this process confit. I call it fucking delicious.

It's like sex, only better. And fattier, I guess, but that depends on the sex.

Little bits may get brown and dark on the bottom of the pan, but that's where all of the flavor is.

After your bacon product has indeed become crisp and has given up all of the wonderful fat that it can, take the pan off of the heat and remove the pieces, reserving them for later. Still without any heat, put the sprouts cut-side down into the fat. Return the pan to the heat and allow to cook, still over medium, for about 5 minutes or so. Check them often for browning, as you do not want a lot of color for this initial cooking.

For further reading, please see "2 Live Crew"

How does that Ludacris lyric go? "Face down, ass up," right?

Once all of the sprouts have taken a bit of goldenness, go ahead and just toss them up in the pan, adding a bit of kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper if you like, and keep ’em cooking. This is also the time to add any other herbs/spices that may tickle your fancy. I love it when my fancy gets tickled. However, I didn’t add anything else. The pancetta was enough this time. Once they’ve taken as much color as you want, go ahead and plate with the reserved bacon bits.

Getting so sexy right now.

Not too browned yet, but just right for flipping and tossing. Also, apologies for the blurriness.



  • 3/4 to 1 pound of brussels sprouts
  • 1/2 pound (approximately) of bacon product (anything fatty, no lean shit here!)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly-ground black pepper
  • Olive oil (if needed)
  • Additional seasonings / finishing touches (see below)


  1. Trim any excess root from the ends of the brussels sprouts and remove any outer leaves that are dirty or loose.
  2. Halve any sprouts that are larger than a modest bite themselves. Smaller ones can remain intact. Reserve any leaves that come apart as well
  3. Dice the bacon into bite-sized pieces. Add to a cold pan (larger is better) and put over medium heat.
  4. Render the fat from the bacon, moving the pieces around frequently to prevent premature browning. The whole process should take about 15 minutes or so.
  5. Remove bacon pieces after they are browned and fat has been rendered into pan. Reserve for later. Take the pan off of the heat.
  6. Place sprouts cut-side down into the pan (still off of  the heat), adding any spare leaves and whole small sprouts as well. Return to medium heat.
  7. Toss after sprouts have taken some color on one side, about 5 minutes. Continue cooking until they are tender and have browned to your preference. Note: sprouts can take the heat. The darker they get, the deeper (and admittedly, funkier) their flavor becomes.
  8. Finish with reserved bacon pieces.

    Also works well when eaten cold for breakfast. I've tried it. I recommend it.

    The richness of the pork fat and the green cabbage funk of the sprouts get alone very nicely, indeed.

This application is really quite flexible. Depending on what kind of bacon you use and what kind of flavor profile you’re looking for, you can easily go from unadorned to flavor-specific. Try it with pancetta, some crushed red pepper flakes, and a finishing splash of balsamic or sherry vinegar. Or use some extra smokey thick-cut bacon and add a bit of ground cumin or smoked paprika. It’s a good dish to get weird on. Creativity loves cured pork.

– Max.