Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Caramelized Leeks and Bacon

 OK, yes, I HATED brussel sprouts growing up. HATED. THEM. I was pretty picky (so weird considering I love to try new things now) but that was, like, top of the list. I had no idea why anyone would ever choose to eat those things. Well, one day in recent years, I just decided to try them again. I had never had them roasted, only steamed, which could have been the problem. I am not a big fan of steamed veggies period. I LOVE them raw, grilled and roasted, but spare me on the mushy steamed version.

 Anyway, I LOVED these little guys roasted. I came up with this recipe for Thanksgiving a couple years ago and it was a big hit.
Since, there has been many a time I have made this, and only this, for dinner. It is that good, and so good for you! My husband STILL hates brussel sprouts, but I finally got to him to try these and he loved them. So hey, it's worth a shot!

Here is what you need (this is a fairly big batch)

2 bags of brussel sprouts (I buy from TJ's, you can also just buy the big stem they grow on if you're fancy like that)
2 leeks
1/3 to 1/2 package of uncured, nitrate/nitrite free applewood smoked bacon (OK, who cares, get whatever bacon you want, I just prefer this kind. Sometimes I even use turkey bacon or canadian bacon.)
2 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons of balsamic reduction (TJ's has a great deal on this, or you can try and make your own. All you do is reduce a cup or two of balsamic vinegar by simmering on the stove until it thickens, this makes it sweeter)

Preheat the oven to 425. Start by cleaning and cutting your brussel sprouts - I wash, cut off the end and cut in half, depending on the size. Sometimes there are gigantic brussel sprouts that need to be cut in thirds or quarters. Make sure they are dry, and toss them onto a baking sheet (I ALWAYS foil line my shit, because it makes cleaning up easier. You do whatever you want!).

Pour a couple glugs of olive oil onto the brussel sprouts and season with salt and pepper. Toss them right there on the baking sheet then spread them out before popping them in the oven.

While those guys are cooking (it's going to take 20-30-ish minutes, keep an eye on them. You want them to be dark in some spots and cooked through, but NOT overcooked and mushy). Clean your leeks. Remember, leeks grow with sandy dirt piled up around them, which gets in between all those pretty spirals. The best way, I have found, is to peel off the outside layer, cut off the end and cut the leek lengthwise. Then chop, and throw into a bowl full of cold water. Move them around to get all the dirt to fall off then scoop them out with a slotted spoon to drain. Pat leeks dry. OR - Trader Joe's sells them already trimmed and cleaned.

Chop the bacon and add to a hot pan (medium heat) to brown. Once bacon is crispy (or however you like it), remove and drain excess oil, leaving about a tablespoon. Turn heat to medium low.
Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally. You want them to darken in spots and cook through. As they start to caramelize, add in your chopped garlic and let that continue to cook for a couple minutes. Turn heat to low and add bacon and balsamic reduction. Stir. Once brussel sprouts are done, remove from oven and add to the pan with bacon and leek mixture. Toss and serve warm.

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