I am very much in love with gratins. When I first realized gratins exist and that I could actually make them at home instead of going to some fancy French restaurant, I was a very happy little lass.
So now it’s one of those dishes I make a lot now and have a lot of fun cooking as well. Certain recipes are very therapeutic as they take a little longer to make but not too long where you are breaking your back in the kitchen. And also putting together all the beautiful ingredients to make something even more wonderful is really rewarding and bittersweet in the end.
Usually when I make gratins, I jam pack them with a decadent cheesy sauce (like my beloved gruyere potatoes au gratin, you are so delicious my friend). But lately I have realized that dairy is doing nasty things to my stomach and I thought it was time to give my gratin a makeover.
And thank the universe for cauliflower! You wonderfully white cruciferous vegetable. Oh how you have made my life so much easier! I can still enjoy my creamy vegetables and not feel the pains of my stomach playing a symphony of embarrassing gurgles and growls!
Cause yeah I am sure we have all been there, it’s not fun. You are at work and everyone is quietly and laboriously hunched over their keyboards, the only sound is the humming of computers and then your stomach makes a dreadful staunchly noise.
All you can do is just turn around and be like “hey, yeah it’s all right, that was just stomach, just pretend nothing happened people.” Obviously no one can forget that happened. Thanks Gertrude (what I name my stomach whenever I’m cross with it, just go with it.)
I always wanted to make a Brussel sprouts gratin and adding bacon and walnuts just bring the dish to a whole other level of deliciousness. And to top it off it’s packed with bacon fat flavor! Yes when you eat these creamy Brussel sprouts they will have the musky and salty bacon-y taste that makes your nose curve up.
It is quite heavenly. I’ve never had such delicious Brussel sprouts like these. When I made this dish I would bring them as leftovers to work every day of the week and I think I could sense my coworkers pausing while eating their KFC sandwich and oogling at my Brussel sprouts.
If you want you can garnish the gratin with some Parmesan cheese before putting it in the oven to give it a nice brown finish. And of course if you have some leftover sprigs of rosemary and thyme don’t be afraid to throw those on there too!
If you are not using the bacon fat, you can also chop some herbs up and use that for the cauliflower sauce. It’s totally up to you. I felt that the bacon fat had enough flavor that I didn’t have to add my favorite herbs in there as I always do. The one time I don’t go for the herbs! How treacherous of me!
Brussel Sprouts and Bacon Gratin with Creamy Cauliflower Sauce
2 pounds Brussel sprouts, halved
8 oz. bacon
¼ cup walnuts, crushed
For the sauce
½ head of cauliflower, cut into florets (about 2 cups)
1 cup almond milk
½ cup chicken stock
¾ tsp salt
½ clove garlic, diced
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
3 tbsp bacon fat (optional)
½tsp freshly ground pepper
¼ tsp nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a gratin dish and set aside.
Fill medium stock pot halfway with water and bring to boil. Add Brussels sprouts, stirring in hot water and blanch quickly for about 2 minutes or until they turn bright green. Immediately drain and set aside. Fry bacon until crisp and coarsely chop, set aside. If using save the bacon fat for later.
To make the cream sauce, place a couple inches of water in a large pot. Once the water is boiling, place steamer insert and then cauliflower florets into the pot and cover. Steam for 12-14 minutes, until completely tender. Drain and return cauliflower to the pot. Add the almond milk, stock, salt, garlic, nutritional yeast, bacon fat (if using), pepper and nutmeg to the pot. Use an immersion blender or food processor to combine the ingredients until smooth.
Add the Brussel sprouts and more than three-quarters bacon to prepared gratin dish. Pour the cauliflower sauce over the sprouts and top with crushed walnuts and remaining bacon. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until Brussels sprouts are tender. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.