not your childhood Brussels sprouts*

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* unless your childhood was incredibly tasty and culinarily adventurous, in which case you should call your parents right now and thank them.

Poor Brussels sprouts really get a bad rap. They often appear on lists of kids’ least favourite vegetables and certainly don’t get the kind of attention their Brassica cousin kale is enjoying these days. It seems there was some trend when I was a child to cook them with vinegar, which really did not do them any favours. So for me, for many years, they remained out of sight, out of mind, and off the menu. But then I discovered the TOMI-KRO Brussels sprout slaw and saw the little cabbages in a whole new light. Sadly, TOMI-KRO, the once Leslieville hotspot, is now closed. But I have taken to making a variation on the slaw and actually enthusiastically serve Brussels sprouts as part of a meal. You can shred the Brussels sprouts with a grater (like they did at TOMI-KRO) or simply half or quarter them (my method). Use the cured pork product of your choosing, and adjust the cheese to your liking. I often find I don’t need to add extra salt, so just a crack of fresh pepper for seasoning does the trick.

SERVES 4 AS A SIDE DISH

a few slices chopped pancetta, bacon, or prosciutto
approximately 1/2 cup finely grated asiago or Parmesan cheese
about 2 dozen Brussels sprouts
fresh black pepper, to taste

Add chopped cured pork to pan and turn heat to medium. I find starting the pan cold helps keep the meaty part from overcooking while the fat renders out (how much grease you get will depend on your meat…if there is quite a bit, pour some off during the cooking process).

Once the cured meat reaches your desired doneness – softer or crispier…I like mine fairly crispy – add the Brussels spouts. Pan fry until tender, but not mushy. Just before serving, sprinkle with cheese and toss to coat so that the cheese melts. Add freshly cracked black pepper.