It’s my second Thanksgiving as About’s official Test Kitchen writer, and I am seizing the opportunity to try out another side dish.
I think you’ll love this month’s Brussels sprouts gratin—a recipe that was selected not only because it sounded delicious, but also because the green will look pretty on a Thanksgiving dinner table.
Gratin-anything is not a food that we ate in the Matas household when I was growing up. I had reviewed several potential recipes before I came up with this simple explanation for gratin: It’s basically homemade macaroni and cheese but the noodles are a vegetable or potato. Right? It seems to me you make a cheesy roux, dump it over your main ingredient, top it with more cheese, and then bake it.
I’m going to call your attention to the first step in the recipe. After the Brussels sprouts are boiled and then run under cold water, you have to set them out on a baking sheet and let them dry all the way. You might want to do this part ahead of time. I did not remember this, and it took much longer than I expected for the sprouts to dry. I even blotted them on the paper-towel-lined baking sheet and then transferred them to an old dish towel because I thought that would be more effective. I ended up letting the sprouts sit for several hours while I did other things, and by the time I returned to them, they seemed not totally dry but fine.
(By the way, leaving the Brussels sprouts drying on your counter will create a lingering smell, so you might want to light a candle.)
Once that’s done, though, it’s smooth sailing. The cheese sauce looked so delicious I almost stuck a spoon in and ate it plain.
In true Thanksgiving tradition, the Brussels sprouts gratin was not the only dish I had to worry about having ready at a certain time on a certain day. (See the Thanksgiving Pie Showdown for further explanation.) So I did what I have watched my mother do with holiday side dishes for years: I prepared the whole thing early, covered it with foil and stuck it in the fridge, and then baked it right before I needed to take it to the office. I did reserve the remainder of the grated cheese, though, and topped the gratin off right before it went in the oven.
I can vouch for the fact it still tasted good when it got to the About staff.
I say this recipe is a keeper. It’s make-ahead proof, it’s vegetarian friendly, and, if you’re not a green-bean casserole fan and still want to get a hearty serving of veggies on your Thanksgiving table, this will do the trick. (The whole thing is covered in cheese. I’m not sure what more you could ask for.)
Happy Thanksgiving, all!
3 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups half-and-half
9 ounces grated Gruyère cheese, divided (about 2 cups total)
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Boil Brussels sprouts in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to cool; spread in a single layer, on a paper towel-lined baking sheet; dry completely.
2. Cook garlic in butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until fragrant, 1 minute. Sprinkle with flour; cook, whisking, 1 minute. Slowly whisk in half-and-half. Simmer, whisking often, until thickened, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in 6 ounces (about 1 1/4 cups) Gruyère; fold in Brussels sprouts. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Transfer to a buttered 3-quart baking dish. Top with remaining Gruyère (about 3/4 cup). Bake at 375 degrees F until bubbly and top is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.