Grilled Brussels Sprouts with Onion-Bacon Marmalade

Most of us have a short list of foods that we've not eaten since we were kids. These foods were so repugnant that our palettes were permanently scarred. Near the top of my short list are Brussels sprouts. So, this time out I thought I would tackle something that I've eaten exactly once before in my life. My kids have never had them, so it was also an opportunity to either add something to their short list, or to expand their culinary horizons.

Brussels sprouts are mini heads of cabbage. But the problem with sprouts for me is that they're mini heads of cabbage. They taste like you took an entire head of standard cabbage and concentrated the flavor into something as small as a Brussels sprout.

In my research for this adventure I discovered that roasting or grilling sprouts mellows that pungent flavor and brings out whatever modicum of sweetness they have. I've roasted broccoli and I can testify that it does make a huge difference. Given that broccoli is in the same botanical family I figured grilling would be a good approach.

Even grilled, I felt that taming these little cabbage grenades would require something more. I did some flavor research and found that onions and bacon would likely be a great combination. This lead me to develop the onion and bacon marmalade that I posted earlier. In addition to the onion and bacon it brings a very welcome sweetness.

How did it work out? Well, I'm happy that I gave the humble Brussels sprout a second chance. They were actually pretty good. The flavor was still strong, but not in the showstopper way that they were as a kid. Oh, and my wife and kids loved them.

If sprouts are on your list, give these a shot.

Note: The cooking method was inspired by Alton Brown's recipe.

1 lb Brussels sprouts (smaller and uniform in size)
3/4 cup Onion and bacon marmalade
2 Tbsp Canola oil
2 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp Black pepper

Start your grill and prepare for direct cooking over medium heat (350º).

Trim 1/8" from the stem end of each sprout, and remove any loose leaves.

Put the sprouts in a zip-top bag, seal the bag halfway, and microwave on high for 3 minutes.

Mix the oil, salt and pepper with a fork in a small bowl, add the mixture to the bag and shake the bag gently to coat the sprouts.

Pour the sprouts onto a platter and allow to cool until you can handle them.

Skewer 4 or 5 sprouts through the stem end onto each metal skewer, leaving at least 1/2-inch in between each sprout.

Grill for two minutes, roll each skewer 1/4 turn and grill two minutes more. Repeat twice more to grill the entire circumference of the sprouts.

Microwave the marmalade for 1 minute at high to warm it.

Remove the sprouts to a cutting board and cut each in half vertically. Put the sprouts in bowl and toss gently with the warmed marmalade.

Grilled Brussels Sprouts with Onion-Bacon Marmalade

Serve and enjoy!

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Onion & Bacon Marmalade

I've made onion marmalade before, but I'm grilling brussel sprouts tonight and I wanted something special to dress them. The thought is that the sweetness of the onion and the richness of the bacon will help balance the pungency of the sprouts.

This marmalade is very versatile, and it's also just this side of addictive. It's amazing on a warm slice of baguette with some goat cheese, as you see pictured here, but with the addition of some thinly-sliced leftover steak. It's also wonderful tossed into roasted potatoes.

This takes a while to make, but your patience will be richly rewarded.

4 lbs Yellow onions, halved and sliced to 1/4"
4 slices Thick bacon
2 cups Apple cider
1/4 cup Sherry vinegar (white wine vinegar is fine)
1/4 cup Brown sugar
10 sprigs Thyme, stripped from the stem (about 2 Tbsp)
1 Tbsp Kosher salt
2 tsp Black pepper

Heat a Dutch oven or large heavy sauce pan over medium-high heat.

Cook the bacon until it's just crisp, then remove the slices and set aside, leaving all of the rendered fat in the pan.

Add the onions and salt to the pan, reduce the heat to medium, cover, and cook until the onions soften (about 15 minutes).

Chop the bacon fine and add it and the remaining ingredients to the pan. Cook uncovered until the liquid is reduced to almost nothing, stirring occasionally (about an hour).

Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking until the onions are a rich medium brown color, stirring frequently (about 10 minutes). If it starts looking too dry, add water 1/4 cup at a time.

Remove from the heat, set aside, and let cool.

(Makes about four cups)

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Cranberry-Orange BBQ Sauce

Turkey season is definitely upon us. I'm always amazed at how much interest there is online in finding new and better ways to prepare and serve a better bird at this time of year. Here's my contribution to this year's madness.

Whether you brine your Thanksgiving bird, barbecue it, or just roast it old-school, it can always use a little boost. Cranberry and orange are an obvious combination that really works well with turkey, and smoked turkey all but begs for a barbecue sauce all its own. This sauce is a brainstorm that I had while contemplating how I might kick my typical smoked bird up a notch using classic flavors that would complement my brine.

The sauce is sweet and tangy, with the subtle flavor of holiday spice and a slight lingering warm heat from the white pepper. Serve this alongside your bird and watch the reaction.

1 can (14 oz) Whole berry cranberry sauce (jellied is fine)
1/2 cup Orange juice concentrate, thawed
1/4 cup Brown sugar
1/8 cup Honey
2 Tbsp Butter, unsalted
2 Tbsp Sherry vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Ground white pepper
1/2 tsp Chinese five spice (or allspice/pumpkin pie spice)
1/2 tsp Ground ancho chile

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium sauce pan.

Bring to a slight boil over medium heat, stirring frequently until all of the ingredients are well incorporated.

Reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook for five minutes.

If you're using whole berry cranberry sauce, blend the sauce well with an immersion blender.

Remove from the heat, set aside, and let cool.

Serve the warm sauce drizzled on your sliced turkey, or serve it on the side.

ranberry-Orange BBQ Sauce

ranberry-Orange BBQ Sauce

You can refrigerate the remaining sauce for up to a week.

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Ultimate Rib Glaze

This glaze is outstanding for adding a sweet and glossy finish to your ribs. It's almost neutral in flavor so that it will nicely compliment the flavor and color of almost any rib rub.

Barbecued ribs are typically served one of two ways -- wet (sauced), or dry (rub only). I like mine either way, but I don't often serve mine dry. Last weekend the girlies wanted ribs, and I wanted to use up some of my leftover Memphis dry rub, so I used it on three slabs of St. Louis-style spare ribs. The rub was great, but I felt that the ribs looked dull and that they needed a bit of sweetness and tang to compliment the rub. I wanted to add something that would bridge the gap between wet and dry ribs, thus the genesis of this glaze.

This isn't just for ribs. It would work very well on almost any barbecued meat.

Caution: As with any finishing glaze, you need to add this during the last few minutes of cooking and watch it closely. You want it to barely caramelize and not burn.

2 1/2 cups Demerara sugar, or any raw sugar
1 1/2 cups Water
1/2 cup Red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Sweet paprika
1/4 tsp Chinese five spice
1/4 tsp Smoked paprika
1/4 tsp Ground cayenne
1/4 tsp Nutmeg

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium sauce pan.

Bring to a slight boil over medium heat, stirring frequently until all of the sugar is dissolved.

Remove from the heat, set aside, and let cool.

Brush or drizzle on the ribs during the last few minutes of cooking.

Add additional coats as you like.

Ultimate Rib Glaze

Ultimate Rib Glaze

You can refrigerate the remaining glaze for up to two weeks.

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Brats with Funky Chow Chow

In addition to Memphis Dry-Rubbed Wings I served grilled brats with a funky chow chow at my driveway tailgate party. Brats are a definite tailgate classic, but this chow chow really makes them something special.

A chow chow is traditionally a relish that is, well, relished in the South. This version is decidedly different, with a base of sauerkraut and onion, the added tang of mustard and a slight spicy finish, which is perfect on brats. My inspiration was to combine many of the condiments that one might ordinarily put on a brat and add a few twists to make something unique. It worked well and my guests enjoyed it.

I paired the brats with Bush's Original Baked Beans. The tender sweet beans were a great compliment to the snap and tang of the brats.

18 Brats
18 Buns
1 batch Funky Chow Chow (recipe follows)
3 cans Bush's Original Baked Beans

Funky Chow Chow
3 cups Sauerkraut, undrained (not from a can, please)
2 cups Yellow onions, diced small
3/4 cup Sweet pickle relish
2 Tbs Yellow mustard
2 Tbs Sugar
2 tsp Granulated garlic (not garlic "powder")
1 tsp Celery salt
1/2 tsp Smoked paprika
1/8 tsp Ground cayenne (optional)

Combine all of the chow chow ingredients in a medium mixing bowl, mix well, cover and refrigerate at least two hours, preferably overnight.

Start your grill and prepare for two-zone cooking (indirect and direct) at medium heat (350-375º).

Grill the brats direct until they're nicely browned.

Move the brats to the indirect side of the grill and continue cooking until they reach an internal temperature of 165º

Brats with Funky Chow Chow

While the sausages finish cooking, warm the buns and heat the beans.

Nestle a brat in a bun, load it up with chow chow, and dish up a mess of beans.

Brats with Funky Chow Chow

Dive in and enjoy!


I would like to thank Bush Brothers for sponsoring my gameday cookout. I've long been a huge fan of Bush's beans, and they have been nothing but a joy to work with.

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