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Cooking the brussels in two stages for this recipe ensures that the cores will be tender and the outer leaves will still have bite.
- 2½ pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed
- 4 ounces slab bacon or pancetta (Italian bacon), coarsely chopped
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for serving
- 1 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs
- 1 small Fresno chile, seeds removed, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
Remove outer leaves from brussels sprouts; set aside. Halve sprouts; set aside. Pulse bacon in a food processor until finely ground. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-low. Cook bacon, stirring often, until browned around edges and fat is rendered, about 4 minutes. Add breadcrumbs and cook, stirring often, until brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer breadcrumb mixture to paper towels and let cool slightly. Toss in a medium bowl with chile, thyme, and lemon zest; set aside.
Increase heat to medium-high and heat 2 Tbsp. oil in same skillet. Add reserved halved brussels sprouts; season with salt. Cook, tossing occasionally, until deeply browned all over, 5–8 minutes. Reduce heat to low, cover skillet, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Uncover skillet, add reserved leaves and 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, and toss to combine. Cover skillet and cook, tossing occasionally, until leaves are bright green and just wilted, 4–5 minutes. Uncover; add remaining 1 Tbsp. lemon juice and season with salt.
Transfer brussels sprouts to a platter, drizzle with more oil, and top with reserved breadcrumb mixture (reheat breadcrumb mixture if needed in a small skillet or in microwave).
Do Ahead: Breadcrumb mixture can be made 3 hours ahead; store uncovered at room temperature. Brussels sprouts (without leaves) can be cooked 2 hours ahead; store covered at room temperature. Reheat before adding leaves.