Choux de Bruxelles Gratiné

Tender baby Brussels sprouts get the royal treatment.. pan-roasted in bacon fat with onions and lightly drizzled with champagne vinegar, then bathed in seasoned Béchamel and topped with shredded Cantal entre deux, hickory-smoked bacon and fresh breadcrumbs with parsley..

For the Béchamel

2-1/2 cups fresh, whole milk
2 ounces cold roux blanc (recipe follows)
a pinch of freshly-grated nutmeg
fine sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Heat the milk in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan until simmering, then whisk in bits of roux one at a time, incorporating each one before adding the next.  This will help to ensure that the sauce is creamy and without lumps. Add the nutmeg and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat, cover and set aside.

For the Roux Blanc

3 ounces organic flour (can use soaked or sprouted flour if desired)
2 ounces clarified butter or ghee

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan over medium heat then whisk in the flour. Continue whisking and cooking until past the raw flour taste and completely smooth in texture, maybe 5 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

For the Brussels Sprouts

1 pound baby Brussels sprouts
6 thick slices uncured, hickory-smoked bacon
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
1/2 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar

Rinse the Brussels sprouts in cold water, then peel off the outermost layer of leaves and trim off the stem. Split the larger sprouts in half lengthwise, leaving the smallest ones whole.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a skillet until well-browned and crisp, then transfer to the side to drain and pour of all but about 1 tablespoon of the the fat.

Add  the Brussels sprouts and butter to the pan and cook until the cut edges begin to brown.  Add the onion and continue to cook, stirring often until the onions are brown and the Brussels sprout are crisp/tender, maybe 8 minute. Remove from heat, add vinegar and toss to coat.

Use a slotted spoon the transfer the cooked vegetables to a casserole dish and pour the béchamel over the top.

Add a layer of shredded Cantal, then arrange bacon pieces over the top.

Add a light layer of fresh breadcrumbs and chopped parsley.

Place casserole in a 375 degree oven and cook until brown and bubbling, about 15 minutes.  Serve hot.

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