A fall and winter weekly ritual for me is to roast a chicken for dinner then make stock. The chicken makes for a comforting, cold weather meal, and the stock keeps us supplied for plenty of warming soups. The trick though is to keep the sides for my roast chicken dinners interesting.
One side staple is roasted potatoes. I particularly love adding chunks of potatoes to my chicken roasting pan about half way through as the fat from the chicken coats the potatoes, making them crisp and flavorful. But the other sides depend on what looks good or is available on hand. When our CSA gave us some cioppolini onions and some brussel sprouts in one share delivery, well, I knew that I had the makings for a dish that would definitely be something new at our table.
Cioppolini onions are ideal for braising or roasting as they get sweet and tender. I had thought about cooking them separately, but the sprouts were too few to make a side dish of their own and when added to the onions, I loved how they added bright pops of green amidst the creamy white onions. For flavors, I decided to keep things simple, by adding butter, honey, and balsamic vinegar to create an acidic but sweet glaze, and for texture– bacon, of course, a familiar friend to both brussel sprouts and onions.
This hearty side stood up to the tender chicken, what with its spicy onion flavor, subtle sweetness and tang, and crisp bacon. I also loved how the sprouts kept their firm texture while the onions were slightly creamy on the palate. I almost envy those who have had snowier weather just for the chance to make this dinner and eat it fire side on a cold night… almost. I’m not crazy.
Note: Cioppolini are usually smaller than these suckers. I suspect that the batch we got were overgrown (the sprouted tops would indicate that for sure.) So keep that in mind when shopping for some at your local grocery or produce stand. They may also come with their green stalks in place. Just trim the tops off, reserving those for making stock.
- 8-10 cioppolini onions, trimmed of tough ends and halved (or quartered if large)
- 12-16 small brussel sprouts, halved
- 3 strips, thick cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4 inch thick lardons.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- salt and pepper
Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a medium pot. While waiting for water to boil, make an ice bath in a large bowl, combining 4 cups of ice with a quart of water. Generously salt the water, a small handful of kosher salt will do. Add the onions, skins on and boil for about 5-7 minutes or until tender when pierced with a knife. Remove onions with a slotted spoon or strainer and plunge into ice bath. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes, then drain and pat dry with paper towels.
In a large skillet over medium heat, add the bacon and cook until crisp. Remove bacon pieces to a paper towel lined plate. While bacon cooks, peel the skin off the onions. Once bacon is removed from pans, pour off bacon fat, leaving about 1 tablespoon behind and add the butter. Turn the heat up to medium high. Once butter has melted, add the onions and brussel sprouts. Cook until lightly caramelized on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Add the honey, balsamic vinegar, and 1/4 cup of water, then reduce heat so that the liquids simmer. Cook until liquids have reduced to a glaze, about 7-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Plate and top with crisp bacon.
CSA Count: 2
Brussel sprouts, cioppolini onions