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Bacon-Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Farro Piccolo

Farro and bacon visit Brussels for the holidays.

4 to 6 side dish portions


About 45 minutes


Some people think bacon improves everything. We’ll stop shy of that assessment. Yet a simple, homely plate of bacon fat–roasted Brussels sprouts inspired this dish. The sprouts were plain. They may even have tumbled from a freezer bag. They weren’t bursting vivid green. Despite their limitations, however, they were divine: tender, sweet, and slyly smoky.

A humble beginning, but a good jumping-off place. We all know Brussels sprouts can be pretty grumpy, especially as they age, and unless they’re super-fresh and tiny, must submit to blanching and slicing—or at least halving, to be at their best. Once blanched and bright, these Brussels put real effort into dressing for dinner, accepting both bacon fat and lardons. Farro piccolo offered them a bounce of succulence, and chopped pecans a touch of spice. The overall effect? Woodland flavors and magic. Nothing homely here.

Cooking Remarks

Get your hands on some good smoked bacon—the kind that’s not too salty or loaded with bogus ingredients—and some small, fresh Brussels sprouts. We know where you can get the farro piccolo, too.

equipment mise en place

For this recipe, you will need a medium bowl, a medium saucepan, a colander, a 9- or 10-inch cast-iron skillet, and a slotted spoon.

    • 12
      ounces firm Brussels sprouts, preferably small
    • Fine sea salt
    • 3
      ounces slab or thick-cut bacon
    • Extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1
      large garlic clove, minced
    • ¼
      cup (1.8 ounces) Anson Mills Farro Piccolo, cooked according to Plain and Simple Farro Piccolo
    • 3
      tablespoons pecans, very lightly toasted (if desired), and chopped
    • 1
      tablespoon sherry or cider vinegar
    • 2 to 3
      teaspoons maple syrup
    • ½
      teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    Trim the bottoms of the Brussels sprouts and peel away any loose or discolored leaves. If the sprouts are small, cut them in half pole to pole. If they are larger, slice them pole to pole about ¼-inch thick. Fill a medium bowl with ice water and set it near the stove. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add 2 teaspoons salt and the sprouts, then cover, return to a simmer and cook until the sprouts are just tender, no more than 1 minute. Drain immediately in a colander, plunge the sprouts into the ice water, and leave them just until cooled, no longer. Drain again and dry completely on layers of paper towels; set aside.


    If using slab bacon, cut it into ¼-inch-thick slices, then crosswise into ¼-inch pieces; if using thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into ¼-inch pieces. Add the bacon to a 9- or 10-inch cast-iron skillet along with a teaspoon or two of olive oil. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is crisp and rendered, about 10 minutes, depending on the bacon. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate (don’t bother draining it on paper towels); set aside. There should be a couple tablespoons of fat in skillet; if there is less, supplement with olive oil.


    Set the skillet over high heat. Turn the sprouts into the hot fat and sear them, tossing only occasionally, until well browned, about 5 minutes. Avoid overzealous stirring—it will interrupt their browning. Add the garlic, farro, pecans, and bacon. Toss to combine and warm the farro, about 15 seconds. Taste for seasoning, adding salt as needed. Add the vinegar, maple syrup, and pepper, then toss to combine. Serve hot.