I first started cooking this dish when on the hunt for bacon-free sprout alternatives and discovered Molly Wizenberg’s wonderful food blog, Orangette. Her recipe for cream-braised sprouts is utterly rich and incredibly simple to make, and it has graced many of my holiday tables. Over the years, though, I’ve adapted it into a gratin, adding garlic, nutmeg, cheese and marjoram and slipping the dish of creamy sprouts into the oven to bubble and brown while the turkey rests. The key is to go big or go home: The few times I’ve tried to cut the fat and use half-and-half or light cream instead of heavy, the dairy has split and curdled. Use full-fat cream, good local cheese and butter and take an extra-long walk after the big meal.
Serves 6–8 as a side dish, with leftovers
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
1 clove garlic, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh marjoram leaves (use fresh oregano if you can’t find marjoram)
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1½ cups heavy cream
Juice and zest of ½ lemon
½ cup grated Robinson Farm’s A Barndance or other alpine-style cheese, such as Gruyère or Comté
Preheat oven to 375°F. Heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy skillet or stovetop-to-oven enameled cast-iron gratin pan and add the sprouts, cut side down, allowing them to get deeply browned before tossing and seasoning with salt and pepper. Add the garlic, marjoram, nutmeg, cream and lemon zest, stirring to coat, then allow to simmer, uncovered, 4–5 minutes.
Stir in the lemon juice, taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed, then pour the contents of the pan into an oven-safe casserole dish (if you’re using a gratin pan, there’s no need to transfer).
Sprinkle the top with the cheese and some more black pepper and bake for 15–18 minutes, or until bubbling and lightly brown on top. Serve hot.
Sarah Blackburn is a home cook, recipe developer, soccer mom, Italophile and managing editor at Edible Boston. She can be reached at email@example.com.