A week ago after I brought carrot cake muffins to work, one of my colleagues emailed me. “I wish your baking spree didn’t coincide with my diet,” she said, and I was sad. I wished she could try the muffins. I hate when people aren’t able to enjoy delicious things.
Then she asked me if I ever make savory recipes, which is a fair question because my blog and Instagram mostly consists of doughnuts, cookies, cake, and toast. I said yes and she sent me a recipe for brussels sprouts gratin.
I love brussels sprouts, but I didn’t know this until a few years ago when I was living in D.C. Growing up, I didn’t eat them because my mom had PTSD from when her parents forced her to eat the frozen kind warmed up every night for dinner. I didn’t avoid brussels sprouts, but I never sought them out.
Then I saw them at the farmers’ market in D.C. I was intrigued. There were huge piles of them and they looked little, cute, and green. I decided to buy some and roasted them in the oven. I figured anything oven-roasted couldn’t be that bad.
I was right. The sprouts were smoky, caramelized, and delicious. Some of the leaves fell off and got charred on the baking sheet. I popped them into my mouth and ate them like potato chips. They melted on my tongue. I started a love affair with brussels sprouts that continues to this day.
Which brings me back to this brussels sprouts gratin. I was going to follow the recipe my colleague gave me, but then, I decided to get creative. I had some leftover prosciutto from making pizza, so I subbed that in for bacon. I added panko breadcrumbs on top and used fontina cheese instead of Gruyère.
The resulting gratin was heaven. The sprouts were slightly tender and caramelized, the cheese was salty, melty, and gooey, and the top added some crunch. I can’t wait to eat the leftovers today for lunch.
The best part about this recipe is that it keeps getting better and better as you go along. You start with some sprouts in a pan, wait until they’re bright green and tender, and then you layer cream and cheese on top. THEN you wait until it gets melty and gooey and you add the breadcrumbs. Your house will smell like Thanksgiving, which is one of my favorite smells (and also my favorite holiday).
Anyway. I’d recommend making this recipe as soon as possible. It can feed one person for a couple meals, or you can double it and it can feed a couple people for a few days. It’s more filling than you’d think.
Here’s a song to get you started on your brussels sprouts-making journey. I heard it the other day when I was having lunch at a Mediterranean restaurant.
Brussels Sprouts Gratin
1 pound brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and halved lengthwise
1 large shallot, peeled and sliced thinly lengthwise
1 clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
2 pieces of thinly-sliced prosciutto, torn into bite-size pieces
3 Tbsp olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated fontina cheese
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Toss the brussels sprouts, shallot, garlic, prosciutto, a pinch of salt and pepper, and 2 Tbsp of olive oil in an 8×8 baking dish. Place in the oven and cook for 12-15 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the sprouts are bright green and slightly tender.
While the sprouts are cooking, toss the bread crumbs with a little salt, pepper, and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a small bowl. Set aside.
Remove from the oven and place the sprouts in a ceramic baking dish (if desired…I did it for presentation). Pour in the cream and fontina cheese and toss to coat. Cook for another 10-12 minutes, or until the cream has reduced by half and the sprouts are beginning to brown.
Scatter the breadcrumbs on top of the sprouts and return the dish to the oven to bake for 5-8 more minutes, or until the crumbs are golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving. Enjoy!