Brussels sprouts are one of those vegetables. People love em or hate them and those that hate them have probably never had them prepared properly. Steamed or boiled without salt and rolled half-heartedly in butter they become sulfurous and soggy, little cabbage nightmares that send people running to McDonalds. But treated properly they are utterly delicious. Bacon always makes them better, a little sauteed onion or crushed red pepper and you have something special. Split in half, deep fried and salted with any number of dipping sauces alongside they become a bar snack to put peanuts to shame.
We happened to have a bag of brussels sprouts slowly dying in the back of our refrigerator when we did our Thanksgiving shopping. At the Newtown Farmer's Market where we picked up our turkey and bacon, I looked up to see Alex bearing a bag of peperoni. This was an unusual sight, it's not an ingredient often found in our pantry and I raised my eyebrows at him. "For the brussels sprouts." he said, as if the answer should have been self evident. "Pepperoni brussels sprouts of course."
Of course. It actually made good sense. Long ago we knew a caterer who would roast mixed nuts under a bed of pepperoni. "You have to use the cheapest, greasiest pepperoni you can find." He told us happily. "The fat drips down over the nuts and seasons them and the pepperoni crisps up and when you mix it together it is sublime. People pay good money for my pepperoni nuts and they are one of the most requested items on my menu." We experimented with his trick and it works like a charm. They key is long slow roasting so that everything is caramelized and crunchy, spicy, salty, and sweet from the nuts themselves.
So when I found myself alone with the pepperoni and brussels sprouts it only made sense to cook them the same way. I cleaned and split them in half. Then I laid them out on a sheet pan, cut side down and covered each piece with a piece of pepperoni. I figured that this way the meat would cook down around the vegetables and we would end up with perfect small bites. It being a good day in our kitchen, that is exactly what happened. We ate them like candy until Alex was inspired to add some espellete honey as a finishing touch. He drizzled it over the sprouts and soon they were just a distant memory. Fortunately they are easy to reproduce and I'm sure we will seeing them again soon.