Monday, May 26, 2008

Easy Brussels Sprout Gratin

I’ve been thinking lately about seasonal recipes. In many respects, they’re fantastic. I’m very excited, for instance, about the fresh basil and strawberries of summer. But in other respects, seasonal recipes can be pretty limiting. I have two amazing pumpkin recipes that I’ve been dying to try, but a little voice in my head keeps saying, You cannot make pumpkin dishes in May. You must put those recipes on hold, hidden in a “November” file, where they must stay until they’re wanted.

You might call me insane. You might be right. But regardless of that, I do think it’s true that we have a habit of unnecessarily relegating certain recipes to a couple months per year. I mean, canned pumpkin is just as good now as it was six months ago, right?

Even so, I just can’t bring myself to make pumpkin fritters when everyone else is serving BBQ ribs and lemonade. But Brussels sprouts, on the other hand, are something I’m unable to resist. We normally don’t see these adorable little guys until Thanksgiving, but just last week I happened upon a Cook’s Illustrated recipe for Brussels Sprouts Braised in Cream. CI has this recipe in with its Christmas collection, but there was no way I could wait until December to make this dish. No. Way.

If you like cream and you like Brussels sprouts, you’ll love this recipe. But be warned: there’s lots of cream. That’s not a problem for me, but some of you may have significant others who are trying to lose weight and who complain that the vegetables you serve them are swimming in heavy cream. Ahem.

I followed the recipe exactly but, at the end, I topped it with a little something extra: a golden breadcrumb crust. Delicious! The golden crust is why I’m calling this a gratin, but, really, a traditional gratin is cooked in a béchamel or cheese sauce. You could certainly do that if you wanted to, but simmering the sprouts in cream is so fast and simple. The online version of this recipe requires you to have a subscription to CI, but if you don’t, don’t despair. I’m including the recipe below.

Easy Brussels Sprout Gratin
Adapted from Brussels Sprouts Braised in Cream

1 pound fresh small Brussels sprouts, rinsed, with stem ends and discolored leaves removed
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Ground black pepper
2 slices white bread, quartered
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Preheat broiler.

Bring sprouts, cream, and salt to boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Lower heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until a knife tip inserted into a sprout center meets no resistance, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in nutmeg and pepper.

Distribute sprouts between two individual gratin or baking dishes. Pulse bread slices in food processor to form fine crumbs, then toss crumbs with melted butter. Top dishes evenly with breadcrumb mixture, then set under broiler until topping is crunchy and golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Remove from oven. Baking dishes will be very hot, so allow to cool before serving.


noble pig said...

These look totally awesome! I love brussies! I have, have, have to try these. Thanks for sharing!!

Leah said...

I just adore brussel sprouts! I could eat them like popcorn if they were sitting in a bowl in front of me!

Yours look soooooo yummy -- pretty too!

Katie said...

Yum that looks really good! I was never a fan of brussel sprouts, but as I got older I surprisingly began to like them more and more! How crazy is that?

Grace said...

if i like cream? there's no "if," my friend. :) that is one good-looking dish.

also, i, for one, don't mind if you make some pumpkin fritters, as long as you take some fabulous pictures of them. :)

giz said...

There are two camps - those that love brussel sprouts and those who would rather slash their wrists than eat them. I actually love them but I'm probaby the only one in my extended family.

Kevin said...

Now that is one tasty way to enjoy brussels sprouts!

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm) said...

I just love Brussel sprouts and this recipe is shouting out at me!!!!!!

DocChuck said...

I'm afraid Brussel Spouts aggravate my chronic bloating condition, even though I am solidly in the camp of "BS LOVERS."

I am going to ask my wife to make this with potatoes instead.

Cauliflower also upsets my "constitution." You seem to favor a lot of veggies that people whose bowels aren't what they used to can't have anymore. Your pictures are superb, though .... I can almost smell your recipes which (though obviously not as good as actually eating them) definitely makes THIS old man happy.


Deborah said...

I am SO saving this recipe. We actually planted Brussels sprouts in our garden for the first time this year, and I can't wait until they are ripe and ready!

chou said...

I'm still learning to love those little cabbagy-veggies, but this might tip the scales . . .

Brentwood Kitchen Shopper said...

I don't know what looks more enticing, the pictures or the actual dish. I am dieting, but what the heck!