A tale of two chil­dren ... and brus­sels sprouts

The Saline Courier Weekend - - SPORTS -

If you have more than one child, you may un­der­stand this tale. 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 re­call her ever tast­ing much of it).

One adores but­ter and milk, while the other would pre­fer not to be seated at the same ta­ble with dairy prod­ucts.

My highly un­sci­en­tific theory is that this is na­ture’s way of en­sur­ing that its off­spring do not starve. If sib­lings have op­po­site tastes, then there is enough food to feed the lit­ter. Af­ter all, how would our species ad­vance oth­er­wise? 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 wired to pre­serve the hu­man race to dis­like Brus­sels sprouts. These lit­tle cru­cifers have been known to of­fend 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 pert and pretty Brus­sels sprouts at the mar­ket with a plan. In­stead of stir-fry­ing or steam­ing them, I would cloak them in bechamel and cheese. For, while my daugh­ter dis­likes Brus­sels sprouts, she loves gratins. Any­thing cheesy, creamy and crispy is right up her al­ley. So, 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

Ac­tive Time: 20 min­utes To­tal Time: 45 min­utes Yield: Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds Brus­sels sprouts

1 1/2 cups whole milk 2 ta­ble­spoons un­salted but­ter

1 gar­lic clove, minced 2 ta­ble­spoons all-pur­pose flour

1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese

1 tea­spoon salt

1/2 tea­spoon freshly ground black pep­per

1/4 tea­spoon ground nut­meg Pinch of cayenne

1/3 cup finely grated Parme­san or Pecorino Ro­mano cheese

1/4 cup panko bread­crumbs

Pre­heat the oven to 350 de­grees. Trim the outer leaves and bot­toms of the Brus­sels sprouts and then cut them in half (quar­ter if large).

Steam the Brus­sels sprouts un­til they are crisp­ten­der, 5 to 7 min­utes, de­pend­ing on their size. Trans­fer to a large bowl.

Heat the milk in a small saucepan un­til luke­warm.

Melt the but­ter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the gar­lic and saute un­til fra­grant, about 30 sec­onds. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to form a paste and lightly toast, about 2 min­utes. Care­fully pour in the milk in a steady stream, whisk­ing to in­cor­po­rate. Bring to a boil, and then re­duce the heat to medium-low and sim­mer un­til thick­ened, about 5 min­utes, stir­ring con­stantly. Add the Gruyere cheese, salt, pep­per, nut­meg and cayenne, and stir un­til smooth.

Pour the sauce over the Brus­sels sprouts and stir to thor­oughly coat. Trans­fer to a 2-quart gratin dish.

Com­bine the Parme­san and bread­crumbs in a small bowl and sprin­kle evenly over the Brus­sels sprouts. Bake in the oven un­til the top is golden brown and the Brus­sels sprouts are ten­der, about 25 min­utes.

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