Brussels Sprout Gratin

  • Yield: 4 servings

“You can make a gratin out of just about anything. Baked in a shallow dish, often with cream, until the top is crispy, it is the essential forerunner of the great American casserole, but with fewer ingredients and a little more attention to detail. With Brussels sprouts, the gratin treatment brings out their gentle, sweet side.”—Michael Natkin

Ingredients

4tablespoons unsalted butter
1small white onion, thinly sliced
2-- garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2teaspoons minced fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
2cups heavy cream
1teaspoon kosher salt
-- Freshly ground black pepper
-- Freshly ground nutmeg
3cups trimmed and cleaned Brussels sprouts
1cup homemade breadcrumbs or panko
1/2cup grated Parmesan Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450F.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a saucepan, over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the oregano, heavy cream, and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to barely maintain a bubble. Cook, stirring occasionally, until it will coat the back of a spoon, about 15 minutes. 
  3. When the sauce is thick enough, add several grinds of black pepper, and a few gratings of fresh nutmeg (or a nice pinch of pre-ground). Taste and adjust seasoning.
  4. Meanwhile, put the Brussels sprouts in a microwave-safe bowl with a few tablespoons of water, cover with plastic wrap, pierce the wrap a few times with a knife, and microwave for about 5 minutes, stopping to stir occasionally, until you can just pierce them with a fork. If they start to smell cabbagey, stop cooking. Drain and set aside.
  5. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet, and toast the breadcrumbs with a pinch of salt until nicely browned.
  6. Put the sprouts in an even layer in a low gratin dish, preferably just big enough to hold them snugly in a single layer. Pour the cream sauce over them. Bake until you can see that the sauce is starting to bubble, about 5 to 8 minutes.
  7. Cover with the breadcrumbs and optional cheese, return to the oven until the breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 3 more minutes. Serve hot.
Reprinted with permission from Michael Natkin’s Herbivoracious: A Flavor Revolution with 150 Vibrant and Original Vegetarian Recipes (The Harvard Common Press, 2012). 
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