Brussels Sprouts Gratin with Cracked Black Pepper Oatcake Crust

Monday 17 December 2018

Post in collaboration with Nairn's Oatcakes

Brussels Sprouts are an absolute must have side dish on the Christmas dinner table. This year take them to a whole new level in a creamy gratin with bacon, chestnuts and garlic topped with a cheesy crust made with traditional Scottish oatcakes. Think cheesy skirlie! 

When it comes to Christmas are you #TeamSprout or #TeamNowt? When I asked on my Instagram stories the lovers outnumbered the haters 73% to 27% which I was somewhat surprised about. Personally I fall somewhere in the middle. To be fair I really only ever eat them at Christmas and even then it's possibly more to do with the fact that I feel obliged to do so. They are the Marmite of the vegetable world with jokes a plenty about mother-in-laws putting them on to boil in August so that they are ready for 25th December. Over the years that I've been cooking Christmas dinners I've found a most palatable way of eating them based on the fact that cream, bacon and cheese improves pretty much anything in the food world. My Brussels Sprouts Gratin is a world away from the unpleasant boiled to death sprouts of Christmas past. Plus its got THE most awesome Scottish oatcake topping. 

The usual topping for a gratin would be breadcrumbs, with perhaps a sprinkling of cheese. The topping for my Brussels Sprouts gratin goes as far as to encompass another element of a traditional Scottish Christmas dinner - skirlie (or oatmeal stuffing). By using crushed oatcakes you get the crunchiest most moreish crust ever. Think cheesy skirlie with a black pepper kick. YUM!
Oatcakes are a vital accompaniment for the Christmas cheeseboard but they are way more versatile than solely as a base for topping. So this year as well as picking some up for pate and cheese grab another packet for a touch of Christmas stress busting. Yup, for this recipe you need to bash them with a rolling pin. To ease stress even further you can prepare this dish in advance on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning and heat through prior to serving. 

Nairn’s oatcakes are a Scottish as they come with the majority of their wholegrain oats coming from the Scottish Borders. Their range is baked in Edinburgh where their Peffermill site has been making oatcakes and biscuits since 1935. As well as being tasty there are a whole host of health benefits to eating oats. Nairn's Oatcakes are packed full of wholegrain oats, high in fibre with no GM ingredients and no hydrogenated fat. They provide sustainable slow release energy to keep you feeling fuller longer.
In this recipe I've used Nairn’s Cracked Black Pepper Oatcakes, however if you're not able to track those down you could substitute Nairn’s Rough Oatcakes. Once you've discovered the versatility of using oatcakes as an ingredient there will be no stopping you. Use them pretty much anywhere that you would use bread or biscuit crumbs. Coatings for goujons, crumble toppings, cheesecake base, Cranachan, bulking out meatballs, burgers or stuffing. The possibilities are endless - oatcakes are for life, not just for Christmas.

Brussels Sprouts Gratin with Cracked Black Pepper Oatcake Crust

1kg (unprepared weight) Brussels Sprouts
200g Bacon lardons
2-3 fat cloves of Garlic, crushed
180g Chestnuts, roughly chopped 
400ml Double Cream 
Salt & Pepper 
100g Scottish Cheddar, grated

If you are going to be baking and serving immediately, set the oven to 200c degrees, otherwise you'll just need the hob for now and the oven when you come to reheat the dish.

To prepare the sprouts trim off any loose, yellow or damaged leaves and cut back the base.
Place the sprouts into a saucepan of simmering salted water and cook for 4-5 minutes, until almost cooked. 
Drain thoroughly, allow to cool slightly then cut in half.

Place the bacon lardons into a large frying pan over a medium heat and gently fry until lightly browned.
Add the garlic, chopped chestnuts and halved sprouts and fry for a further 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add the double cream and bring the mixture to the boil. 
Boil for 2-4 minutes, until the cream has reduced to a rich sauce. 
Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Whilst the cream is bubbling you can add any additional flavours - eg wholegrain mustard, cranberry sauce or a splash of sherry.
Remove from the heat and spoon into an ovenproof gratin dish.

Place the Nairn's Cracked Black Pepper Oatcakes in a ziplock bag and bash with a rolling pin. 
Mix the oatcake crumbs and grated cheddar together in a bowl.
*** make to this point if preparing in advance ***

Sprinkle the cheesy oatcake mixture evenly over the top of the sprouts.
If cooking immediately, bake for 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the cream visibly boiling.
If cooking from chilled it will require 35-40 minutes.

♥ Pin me for later...  Brussels Sprouts are an absolute must have side dish on the Christmas dinner table. This year take them to a whole new level in a creamy gratin with bacon, chestnuts and garlic topped with a cheesy crust made with traditional Scottish oatcakes. Think cheesy skirlie!

Disclosure: This is a commissioned post for Nairn's Oatcakes. As always, all views expressed are my own.

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  1. I love Brussel Sprouts but never know how else to incorporate them into dishes. This sounds delicious

  2. I've never tried brussels sprouts in a creamy sauce but it sounds delicious! Thank you for joining in with #CookBlogShare

  3. We are on the same wavelength with our slightly decadent greens. It looks SO GOOD! I love Nairns oatcakes and use them in all kinds of recipes. I love the ginger ones crumbled up in a glass and topped with honey yogurt, stem ginger bits and chocolate chips.

  4. Ooooh, if there's anything that can make Brussels more tasty, it's covering them in cheese! Love the idea of using the oatcakes as a crunchy topping - they sound so tasty!

  5. I don't HATE them but I would never choose them over so many other vegetables. That said, today's sprout varieties are far less bitter than the ones of our childhoods and I the baby ones are pretty decent. And of course, a gratin always makes everything tastier!

  6. I keep getting told that I'm weird liking brussels sprouts but if wanting to eat all of this without sharing then call me crazy. I want it.

  7. I hate sprouts, but that bothers me as I like all other veg. The idea of an oaty topping rather appeals to me though. Thanks for the idea.

  8. I love sprouts! the idea of an oat crust is amazing!

  9. I love sprouts and the topping with cracked black pepper oatcakes and that lovely cheese sounds fab, thanks for this as I’ve bern looking for a dish like this for a Christmas Day.

  10. I love sprouts in any shape or form and your creamy version with oatcake crust really, really appeals to me. What's not to like!


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