Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Chestnuts

Brussels sprouts are a favorite Christmas dish in many parts of Europe, and according to Alton Brown, in Belgium they are traditionally cooked with chestnuts. As I've said before, they are truly horrible if boiled until they become soggy, sulfurous blobs... but they're nutty, sweet and wonderful when roasted or sauteed until the edges are browned. Chestnuts are in season just for this short time around Christmas, and you can find them at Whole Foods or the Co-Op, but I actually saw them at Smith's last week!  I usually forgo the bacon, because I love Brussels sprouts for their own delicious flavor, but hey, it's Christmas.

6-8 whole chestnuts (in shells)
1 pound Brussels sprouts
2 strips bacon, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
2 Tbs olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced

Cut an X into the flat side of each chestnut, then place them in a small saucepan and cover with water. Boil 10 minutes, drain and cool. Peel off the hard outer shell and the bark-like inner coating. Chop into quarters. Wash the Brussels sprouts and peel off any loose outer leaves. Slice them into thin ribbons. Heat a large skillet on medium flame. Fry the bacon bits until crisp, and drain off most of the grease. Add olive oil, garlic, chestnuts and Brussels sprouts. Cook until the sprouts are tender and browning at the edges. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.


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