cream braised brussels sprouts

brussels sprouts gratin_plated.jpg

I feel like I sound like Oprah when I talk about Brussels sprouts because “I. LOHV. BRUSSELS SPROUTS!!” I really do. Almost as much as bread, which is to say, more than mine and Cos’s lives combined.  Roughly. And it’s for this reason that I continue to try nearly every Brussels recipe that comes my way despite the fact I almost always conclude that the super basic method of season with evoo/salt/red pepper flakes and roast until deeply charred is the only recipe I’ll ever need.  I keep trying them because love makes me hardheaded, and because new days bring new cravings even if I am still eating mini cabbages for the third time in two weeks.  

This Brussels sprouts gratin recipe from NYT Cooking originally caught my attention because I had all of the ingredients on hand – Brussels, Gruyere, shallots, panko – but what really sold me was how one the commenters claimed it to be even better with lemon zest and a splash of fish sauce. Funk YASS! I needed no further prodding than my new bestie* Alex’s recommendation. Give me ALL that umami realness right this minute, byeeeee. And while I'm not sure I'll ever find a recipe to dethrone the plain roasting method as king of my heart, this one just pulled a check mate.  

(*I don’t know this person but the comment clearly proves that we’re highly compatible bffs in spirit.)

The cream and fish sauce swirled together cloak each tinybaby cabbage head in its only little blanket of smooth and fragrant gravy, causing them to soften down into a perfectly palatable bite that would make those sad, mushy boiled Brussels sprouts of the 70’s flip over in their little vegetable graves with envy. And then there’s crunchy topping, which shows up here to do what it does best - make everything taste better.

Nonchalant decadence is the vibe this dish is putting down, breezy back patio on a summer night dinner fare with white linen tablecloths and chilled red wine. It’s the Sunday Supper side dish of my dreams, which is a funny thing for me to say considering I ate it not as part of a meal but as a meal on its own, doused in lemon juice and sprinkled with flaky salt with a piece of garlic bread on the side. Then again, that only further proves my point since few things make me feel like I’m achieving ~balance~ in that Gwenyth Paltrow for Goop, having it all kind of way than eating than a giant bowl of cream braised vegetables for dinner. 

Brussels Sprouts Gratin, adapted from NYT Cooking

1 ½ pound brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and halved lengthwise
2 large shallots, peeled and quartered lengthwise
2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon fish sauce (or less, some brands are much saltier than others)
black pepper
1 cup coarse bread crumbs or panko
Scant 2/3 cup heavy cream
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup grated Gruyere (about 3 oz)

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Place brussels sprouts, shallots, and garlic in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, fish sauce, and fresh ground pepper. Roast until sprouts are bright green and just tender (think al dente), stirring occasionally, 12 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine bread crumbs with remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Add cream, lemon zest, and Gruyère over sprouts and toss to coat. Continue to roast until cream is reduced by about half and sprouts are beginning to brown, another 12 to 15 minutes.

Scatter bread crumbs over sprouts and return to oven until golden brown and crisp, 5 to 8 minutes. Let sit 1 to 2 minutes at room temperature before serving with a big squeeze of lemon juice and some flaky salt.