As we settle into Fall here in the Northeast apple cider and cranberries are everywhere, and I was anxious to put them to good use in this dish. The fennel adds a nice textural contrast, and an additional element of flavor without overpowering the star of the show, the brussel sprouts. I have used a variation of this cider cream for years as a drizzle over a butternut squash and apple soup I make, and it is perfect here, adding just a touch of sweetness and a richness that mellows the bitterness of the sprouts. The cranberries and bacon not only add visual interest, but also contrasting sweet and salty pops that nicely play off the still toothsome, earthy brussel sprouts. —Oui, Chef
Butter the bottom and sides of a shallow gratin dish.
Take the apple cider and place in a saucepan over high heat, reduce by half to approximately 1/4 cup.
Quarter the fennel, cut out the wedge shaped root at the base, and thinly slice. Saute in a pan over medium-low heat with a little olive oil and butter, season with salt and pepper. Cook until it is lightly caramelized, and just starting to soften. When done, spoon the fennel into the gratin dish in an even layer.
Trim the stems of the sprouts, removing any tough outer leaves, and quarter them. Add to the pan that the fennel was cooked in, with a touch more oil and butter, and season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat until the brussel sprouts are nicely browned on a few sides, but still maintain a vibrant green color, 7-8 minutes. When done, pour them over the fennel in the gratin dish.
Combine the reduced apple cider with the cream and pour over the sprouts and fennel, sprinkle with the cranberries, season with salt and pepper, and cover with aluminum foil.
Place into the oven for 30 minutes.
While the sprouts are cooking, cut the bacon into lardons and cook until crispy. Drain on a paper towel and reserve.
Remove the dish from the oven, uncover, and sprinkle with the cooked lardons to serve.
I am a father of five, who recently completed a two year professional hiatus during which I indulged my long held passion for cooking by moving to France to study the culinary arts and immerse myself in all things French. I earned “Le Grande Diplome” from Le Cordon Bleu, studied also at The Ritz Escoffier and Lenotre cooking schools, and completed the course offerings of the Bordeaux L’Ecole du Vin.
About six months ago started "Oui, Chef", which is a food blog that exists as an extension of my efforts to teach my children a few things about cooking, and how our food choices over time effect not only our own health, but that of our local food communities and our planet at large. By sharing some of our cooking experiences through the blog, I hope to inspire other families to start spending more time together in the kitchen, cooking healthy meals as a family, passing on established familial food traditions, and perhaps starting some new ones.