When I look back at the recipes I’ve shared on this site there is one common theme – butter, cream, and cheese. Oh, sure, you might find a random healthy recipe here and there, but very few are by design (as in, I’m going to create a healthy recipe) and more because of coincidence (as in, Hey! I made some I like and it’s sort of healthy, too!).
If you’ve been following along for a while you already know these things about me, but if you’re new you should know – I really love the full-fat everything. And while I believe I have to balance all the full-fat stuff in my life there are certain dishes that have to have the real stuff and gratins are one of those dishes. Lightened-up, skinny, or ‘healthy’ versions just won’t do and with the holidays just around the corner now is the perfect time to work on our gratin-making skills.
So, here’s a little decadent side dish to put on your holiday must make list…
Remember my Better Know a Mother Sauce series? I lifted the bechamel sauce recipe straight from that series to use in this Brussels sprouts gratin. I made a similar dish then, except it was with cauliflower and a creamy cheddar cheese sauce. This time we’ve got fresh Brussels sprouts, a decadent Gruyere cheese sauce and a crispy bread crumb topping with bacon.
Butter, cream, bacon, and cheese = all of the good things in life.
Now that brussels sprouts are in season (and will be until about February) it’s the perfect time to use them in a gratin and they really are the perfect match for all that creamy, cheesy goodness.
Fresh Brussels sprouts baked up in a rich and creamy Gruyere cheese sauce and topped with a crispy bacon and bread crumb topping. This is a holiday must-have side dish!
1 hrPrep Time
20 minCook Time
1 hr, 20 Total Time
- 3 slices bacon, chopped
- 1/2 cup of butter, divided
- 1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts, stems and outer leaves removed and halved (if extra large cut into quarters)
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups 2% percent milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 yellow onion, peeled
- 1 clove
- 2 1/2 cups gruyere cheese, grated
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cup bread crumbs (see note)
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- In a large pan, cook the chopped bacon over medium heat until it's crispy. Remove it from the pan (leave the fat in the pan) and set aside. In that same pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the bacon fat. Add the Brussels sprouts and let them cook for at least 10-15 minutes, or until tender. Once cooked remove them from the heat and set aside.
- Turn the heat off and let the pan cool a bit before making the bechamel sauce. Once it's cooled, turn the heat to low and add another 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan. Once it's melted and frothy, sprinkle in the flour. Stir it all together until it forms a paste. Slowly pour in the milk and cream whisking continuously to ensure no lumps form and the flour and butter fully incorporate into the milk and cream. Raise the heat to bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Stick the single clove into the onion and add both to the milk mixture. Let the mixture simmer and reduce for about 20 minutes or so, or until it has reduced enough to coat the back of a spoon. You will need to stir frequently to ensure the bechamel does not burn at the bottom of the pan. Once reduced remove the onion and clove and discard.
- Stir in 2 cups of the grated Gruyere cheese (save the rest for the top of the gratin). Once the cheese has melted season the sauce with the salt (be sure to give it a taste and add more to suit your taste). Stir in the cooked Brussels sprouts and pour it all into a 8 x 8 baking dish. Top with the remaining Gruyere cheese.
- In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs with the grated Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and ground black pepper. Top the Brussels sprouts with the bread crumbs and sprinkle the cooked bacon over the bread crumbs. Take the last 2 tablespoons of butter, cut it into small pieces, and spread them out evenly over the top of the bread crumbs and bacon.
- Bake at 375 for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes turn the broiler on and move the baking dish to the top rack. Broil the dish for a few minutes, just until the bread crumbs turn a brown and get really crispy (keep an eye on it!). Remove from the oven and serve.
I always have a loaf of white bread on hand in the freezer to use for bread crumbs (a little tip I picked up from Ina Garten). 3-4 slices is all you need for this recipe - let them defrost (I nuked them) and then stick 'em in a food processor to turn them into crumbs. For this recipe I prefer making my own bread crumbs, but you can substitute pre-made ones - follow all of the same steps, but you may not need to broil the dish for as long. Just check at the end of the baking time that everything looks crispy.
You can make different parts of the recipe a head of time. The bacon and Brussels sprouts can be cooked the day before and kept in the fridge until you're ready to assemble the dish. You can also prep the bread crumbs ahead, just wait to mix them with the melted butter until you're ready to bake the gratin.