If you have more than one child you may understand this tale: I have two children. One is an adventurous eater, and one is not. One loves fish, and the other can’t stand it (although I don’t really remember her tasting much of it.) One loves butter, while the other would prefer not to be seated at the same table with it. My highly unscientific theory is that this is nature’s way of ensuring that it’s offspring do not starve. If siblings have opposite tastes, then there is enough sustenance to feed the litter. After all, how would our species advance? At least this is how I console myself as a parent and a cook.
Which brings me to brussels sprouts. OK, I understand that you don’t have to be a child genetically predisposed to preserving the human race to dislike brussels sprouts. These little crucifers are enough to rile many a mature adult. But in our home, they are enjoyed – at least by most of us. My son likes them, and, therefore, my daughter does not. So, in a moment of inspiration and indefatigable hope I purchased a bag of firm pretty brussels sprouts at the market today with a plan. Instead of stir-frying or steaming them, I would gratinée them. While my daughter dislikes brussels sprouts, she loves gratins. Anything cheesy, creamy and crispy is right up her alley. Why not? I would give it a try. And you know what? She liked it. The problem is that my son, who dislikes rich and creamy food, did not.
Brussels Sprout Gratin
1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup finely grated Gruyère cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 F. (180 C.) Wash brussels sprouts. Trim outer leaves and bottoms, then cut in half. Steam brussels sprouts until crisp tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
Melt the butter over medium heat in a saucepan. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined and light golden in color. Add the milk in a steady stream, whisking to incorporate, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring, until thickened. Stir in the Gruyere cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg until smooth. Pour over the brussel sprouts and stir to thoroughly coat. Transfer to a gratin dish. Combine panko and Parmigiano in another small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over the brussels sprouts. Bake in oven until golden brown and heated through.