So my Carrot got me this cookbook for my birthday. Ok, he actually got me three cookbooks. (You saw the picture). But this one cookbook that he got me- The New Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook by Ellen Brown- I’d never heard of it. And if I’m being completely honest here, I planned to totally neglect it until I’d thoroughly tackled Ottolenghi and Molly on the Range.
But then, while playing in my kitchen over the weekend, I noticed the two sad cast-iron skillets stacked on top of our fridge. They had largely been ignored since the move and were beginning to lose their good seasoning from lack of use.
I began reading earnestly with some introductory tips on how to wash and care for my skillet.(Like simmering water in a dirty pan before wiping it clean instead of scrub, scrub, scrubbing). Before I knew I was immersed inside The New Cast Iron Skillet and totally hooked. Sweet rolls, dutch babies, fried chicken, pizza, skillet mac & cheese, pot pies!? Cast-iron skillets aren’t just for sizzling steaks and baking cornbread. I cleaned my pans up, rubbed them generously with some vegetable oil and got to cooking.
The first recipe, a batch of winter squash sweet rolls with so much butter, brown sugar and pecans inside, was dynamite. I nibbled up two huge rolls before the day was done (don’t worry! It’s coming soon my friends!).
Then Joy the Baker posted this recipe and I knew exactly how my second skillet needed to be put to use. Something similar to Joy’s recipe for Brussels Sprouts blanched and smothered in so much smoky Gouda cheese sauce would be the perfect addition to our Thanksgiving table. More rich than the roasted cauliflower, but still veggie focused.
Now, you wouldn’t have to make this in a cast-iron skillet if you don’t have one. No, you could just as easily make the cheese sauce in any old pan and then bake it in a casserole dish (as Joy does). But I’m really loving the skillet.
You can toast the bread crumbs, saute the leek, make the cheese sauce and bake the dish all in one pan. And I think we can all agree that Thanksgiving has plenty of dirty dishes already. Anything that minimizes pans this time of year is a win in my book. Plus the Thanksgiving meal in our family is all about rustic, and I’d argue there is nothing more rustic that a heavy, black, well-loved cast-iron skillet on the dinner table.
Happy Thanksgiving week! Are you prepping your bellies? Are you ready for. all. this. food?!
CREAMY GOUDA VEGGIES WITH BREADCRUMBS
Adapted from Joy the Baker
Serves 8-10 as a side (or 1 very hungry Carrot in two sittings)
Takes 1 hour
1 pound Brussels Sprouts
4 cups broccoli florets (for me it was 1 large head of broccoli)
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I made my own by cutting into crouton-sized pieces and baking for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, then pulsing in a food processor)
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, cut in half lengthwise and sliced
1 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups whole milk
2 cups shredded Gouda, divided
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat and preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- While waiting for the water to come to a boil, prepare the Brussels Sprouts. You’ll want to leave the smallest ones whole (but don’t forget to trim the ends), halve the medium ones and quarter the largest ones.
- Toss the prepped Brussels Sprouts into the water once its boiling and cook for two minutes. After two minutes, add the broccoli and blanch both together for two minutes longer. Strain in a colander, rinse with cold water and then place ice cubes on top to stop the cooking process.
- In a large cast-iron skillet or other large pan, melt one tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs and cook until golden brown throughout (about 5 minutes). Remove to a paper towel to drain extra grease.Scrape the pan with a spatula to make sure you get all the crumbs.
- Add remaining butter to skillet and cook over medium heat until melted. Add leeks, salt and pepper. Saute for 5 minutes until softened. Add ground mustard, thyme and cayenne pepper. Continue cooking for 5 minutes and then add flour. Reduce heat to low and cook for 3 minutes until flour is very lightly browned.
- Add milk to roux (mixture of butter, leeks and flour) and turn up heat to medium high. When milk just begins to simmer, remove from heat and stir in 1 cup cheese until melted. Remove ice cubes from blanched veggies and add vegetables into cheese mixture. Sprinkle remaining cup of cheese over the veggies and bake for 30 minutes until top is golden and bubbly. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top when ready to serve.