Alright, in the NSN Thanksgiving series, I have delivered you guys-
Second Course Soup:
I have yet to provide you with a vegetable side dish. How about I do that now? And, I do it in creamy, cheesy, indulgent, Thanksgiving worthy style? And, with one of my favorite vegetables? Brussels Sprouts! Creamy Roasted Brussels and Pear Onion Gratin to be exact. (Insert a huge cheesy grin here… literally. Hold on while I wipe away the béchamel cheese sauce lingering from the corners of my mouth…..)
I get it, I used to not respect these green, rolly-polly, kinda smelly lil’ guys. That all changed when I had them properly prepared and cooked. So, if you think you don’t like them… I am here to tell you that you do! You have just been roaming this earth utterly clueless to how amazingly delicious they are!
Simply roasted, or quickly sautéed over high heat, seasoned with a little salt and pepper… Mind blowing delicious. Roasted, paired with sautéed pearl onions, smothered with creamy béchamel sauce, topped with a panko-pine nut-gruyere cheese mixture topping and baked… Ohhhh. My. Gaaaaaawwwwwdddd. Yes. Yes. Yesssss!!!
The brussels in this gratin are nothing like the memories you hold of your grandmother, mother, or whoever’s sprouts. You know…. Over cooked, mushy, all brown, sad and lifeless. They look, kind of, like they got run over by the Butterball Turkey delivery truck.
This brussels sprouts and onion gratin is seriously marvelous. I promise you will love it. And, if you plan on having a brussels sprouts hater at your turkey table, or you are the sprout hater (!), well then you simply must try this!
**Side Note: I made this and immediately wished I added bacon. You should add bacon for me. Then leave me a comment about how brainless I was for this oversight. If you do want to add some bacon:
- Cut bacon strips into lardons (or dice)
- Sauté the bacon until almost crispy and cooked throughout
- Remove with a slotted spoon
- Mix the bacon into the gratin when combining the brussels and onions in a baking dish
- 1 ½ TBS unsalted Butter
- 1 ½ TBS All Purpose Flour*
- 1 ½ Cups Half and Half
- 4 sprigs of fresh Thyme
- Pinch of Nutmeg
- Salt and Pepper , to taste
- Heaping ¾ Cup Gruyere Cheese- grated (about 3 oz.)
- Sprouts & Onions:
- 1 Pound Brussels Sprouts- ends trimmed , outer layer of leaves removed and cut in ½ or ¼ depending on how large they are (you want them roughly the same size as pearl onions)
- 1 TBS Butter - melted
- ½ Bag of Frozen Pearl Onions (use about 8 oz.)
- 2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper
- 2/3 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs (can substitute fresh bread crumbs)
- ¼ Cup Pine Nuts – roughly chopped
- 3 Cloves of Roasted Garlic* - minced (can substitute 1 large clove of unroasted garlic, minced)
- 1 TBS Butter - melted
- Heaping ¼ Cup Gruyere Cheese- grated (about 1 oz.)
- ½ tsp Sea Salt
- ¼ tsp Pepper
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Prepare the Brussels Sprouts: Prepare an 8x8 inch baking dish by brushing the insides with some of the melted butter. Add the brussels sprouts, remaining melted butter, ½ tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper. Toss to coat.
- Spread the brussels sprouts out evenly and roast until almost fork tender, about 15-20 minutes, tossing once halfway through baking time. Remove from oven and set aside.
- Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.
- Make the Sauce: In a medium sized sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat, do not let brown.
- Whisk in the flour to make a roux, and cook, whisking continuously, until blonde in color, about 1 ½ minutes.
- Slowly whisk in the half and half and increase heat to medium high and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer over medium low heat. Add sprigs of thyme. Cook until thickened, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Remove thyme sprigs with a slotted spoon and discard. Turn heat off and stir in gruyere cheese. Taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside.
- Prepare the Onions: Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the pearl onions and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until light golden in color, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Prepare the Toping: Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Set Aside.
- To Assemble: Add the pearl onions to the baking dish containing the brussels sprouts and stir to mix. Pour the sauce evenly over the vegetables.
- Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture evenly over top.
- Bake uncovered, 20 minutes, or until sauce is bubbling and top of gratin is golden brown. Allow to rest 5-10 minutes before serving.
*To Roast Garlic: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Peel the loose, outer layer off of the head of garlic and discard. Cut the top off of the head of garlic, exposing the tops of each clove of garlic. Place the head of garlic on a small piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle the top of garlic generously with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Wrap aluminum up and over garlic, enclosing it. Roast in the oven for 40 minutes. Carefully remove, allow to cool slightly, and squeeze cloves of garlic out from peels.
*Read this recipe all the way through FIRST.
*The gratin can be assembled a day in advance through step 11, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated overnight. Allow the gratin to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before sprinkling with breadcrumb mixture and baking.