caramelized brussels sprouts with spicy bacon
This post contains graphic scenes of dental violence that might shock or frighten a person. Reader discretion is advised.
There are certain things that as kids, we almost all hated. Chief among them, Brussels sprouts, and going to the dentist.
A while back I recounted the lovely tale of having three of my wisdom teeth pulled. I procrastinated booking an appointment to remove the fourth stubborn tooth which was fully grown, impacted and angled into the tooth next to it. (Such an aggressive tooth.) But I knew I shouldn’t procrastinate any longer. It had to be done. Also, I was worried that if I perpetually put it off I would end up having to take care of it in a country where it would cost a thousand times more. South America has it’s perks, people. Of course, you have to be ready for anything.
The needle pokes and spreads it’s potent liquid.
“I will start the cutting” says my dentist. Apparently ‘the cutting’ was insufficient, because he soon switches to a small drill. He sees the fear in my eyes. “Don’t worry…” He assures, as blood spatters up onto his glasses and nose. Yes, his nose.)
“You can help.” He hands me one of the tools to hold inside my own mouth. I am now assisting my own dental surgery.
“mmmm…” (45 minutes in) “How can I do…” He walks away, leaving me holding a suction hose in my mouth and listening as he calls someone on his cell phone. I hear him asking for someone to come help him. Phew, I think to myself, he’s calling in a specialist. 10 minutes later, a middle-aged woman walks in and greets my dentist with un beso (a kiss). Huh, that’s intimate. “This is my wife.” Oh. I now nervously observe a quick explanation of how to hold the tools. “More pressure, my love.” The tool slips. “Much more pressure, love! Like this.” Oh boy. She smiles at him. Well at least they get along.
He picks up a drill and gives it a few test spins. Bvvv! Bvvv! “Now I cut the bone.” What?! He starts drilling. Oh, he means the tooth. Close enough. His wife tries her best to apply the appropriate amount of pressure. She is avoiding eye contact with me. Perhaps that’s best.
Some of the dust from my pulverized tooth gets in my eyes. My dentist laughs
cruelly good-naturedly. Once he feels he’s cut enough out to have room to pull the rest, he thanks his wife with another beso and sends her off.
Now it’s just me and the dentist again. And my husband, who has been reading out loud from my favorite magazine in Spanish to distract me. My dentist grunts as he pushes and twists and tries to force the half tooth and it’s roots out. “Is it normal that I am starting to feel everything?” I ask. “Does it hurt?” I consider honestly. “No. I can just feel everything you’re doing. Like it’s not numb anymore” “Oh, that’s fine then.” Fair enough. I feel every twist and snap, but he’s right. It doesn’t hurt. It’s just gross.
The dentist keeps yanking. “co-ra-ZÓN” he interrupts my husband’s reading to correct his pronunciation. “Ah, sí, gracias” says Mat, all smiles. Good grief.
He finally pulls the thing out of my mouth. “It’s all out?” inquires Mat. “It’s over, bébé!” I’m not convinced. “We shee abow tha.” Sure enough, moments later I’m staring at a hook-shaped needle and a whole lot of wire. “Now I shut the hole.” Fabulous.
I feel the needle pierce through my gums and the wire slide through, again and again. But hey, technically there’s no pain, I keep telling myself. The wire-like thread cuts the corner of my mouth as it digs in and slides back and forth repeatedly. That’s going to hurt later. Eventually the stitches are in and my dentist is wiping my face. “Must clean the disaster. The hurricane!” he laughs. Oh he’s having a great time. He leaves momentarily to get me some ice.
I slowly lift myself up and look around. He’s not far off. It is something of a disaster zone. I see the bloody tools, the used cotton swabs strewn about on various surfaces. Something terrible went on here. Did I give up any information?
My thoughts are interrupted by my friendly dentist, back with the ice and instructions on how to heal “the wound”. My face? The whole thing feels beaten. We make an appointment to come back to remove the stitches and just like that, we’re headed out to catch the bus.
After all that, you know what I think? My dentist rocks. It was not an easy surgery and he got the job done. On top of that, he didn’t jack up the price after things got complicated.
That said, I prefer Brussels sprouts.
1 tbs cane sugar
1/2 tbs soy sauce
1/4 tsp crushed chili flakes
6 slices bacon
1/2 lb brussels sprouts, rough outer leaves removed, sliced lengthwise
1 tbs sesame seeds
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 tbs sesame oil
1/2 tbs lemon juice
The real surprise in this recipe is the bacon. I got the idea for the technique from an old episode of Top Chef, where the chef used miso on the bacon. I used what I had at hand and what I thought would give a nice sweet and spicy addition to the saltiness of the bacon. I am telling you, it is addictive!
Heat the oven to 210°C (410°F). Adjust to a lower temp if your oven gets really hot.
Mix the cane sugar, soy sauce, and chili flakes. Line a baking sheet with aluminum and place the bacon on the tray, overlapping each piece slightly so it’s all connected. Brush the mixture all over the bacon slices and bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until crispy and sticky. Remove and set aside to cool slightly.
Place a frying pan on medium heat with the oils. Sautée the sprouts until tender and caramelized. Add the lemon juice, shake the pan and add the sesame seeds.
Break the bacon into small pieces and add to the pan. Keep on the heat long enough to bring the bacon back up to temp. Remove and serve.
Garnish with parmesan, if you’re into that kind of thing.
How do you or your kids feel about Brussels sprouts and going to the dentist?