Root Vegetable Gratin
This might sound weird, but I’m kind of sad that winter decided to skip us this year. I mean, it was cold and we were able to ski a few times, but we only had one snow that stuck to the ground, and it melted after about two hours.
Trust me, by April, I’m usually itching for spring, but this year I’d be okay with a final winter blizzard to come through and give us some real snow.
Part of the reason why I miss winter is because there are some dishes that just taste better when you are cold. Soups and stews are obviously in that category, but one of my favorite cold dishes is a big thick casserole.
Specifically, a big thick gratin with layers and layers of thinly sliced veggies. Five different root vegetables, actually. Plus a fair amount of cream and cheese.
There are lots of layers to this thing, but it’s totally worth the slicing!
Root Vegetable Gratin
Yield: Serves 6-8.
3 Russet potatoes, sliced thin
1 large sweet potato, sliced thin
1 large celery root, sliced thin
1 large rutabaga, sliced thin
2 turnips, sliced thin
6 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cloves garlic, mashed
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tablespoons unsalted butter, for dish
Salt and pepper
1) Add cream to a small pot with crushed garlic, nutmeg, and thyme along with a big pinch of salt and pepper.
2) Heat cream over medium heat until it's steaming, but not simmering. Kill the heat and let the flavors infuse for 20 minutes. Then strain the cream.
3) Peel root vegetables and slice thinly using a mandoline slicer or a knife. A knife is hard, but doable.
4) Lightly butter a large baking dish.
5) Layer the root vegetables in any order that pleases you. I went with potatoes, turnips, sweet potatoes, cheese, celery root, rutabaga, potatoes.
6) Pour cream over gratin and press down on it to force the cream between the layers.
7) Top gratin with cheese.
8) Cover gratin with foil and bake at 350 degrees for an hour. Remove foil and bake for another 20-30 minutes until it is browned nicely.
9) Let cool for a minute or two and serve immediately!
Gratins, in my opinion, shouldn’t be healthy. They should be starchy, creamy, cheesy, and decadent.
So you need two cups of cream.
There I said it.
Ok… in reality, you might be able to get away with 1-1.5 cups, but if your gratin sucks, don’t blame me!
Add this delicious cream to a small pot along with the thyme, garlic, nutmeg, and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Stir this over medium heat until it’s steaming, but not simmering. Then kill the heat and let it sit for 20 minutes to infuse the cream with all those flavors.
Root Vegetable Party
You know how I decided what vegetables to use for this recipe? I went to the store and I bought one or two of every root vegetable they had.
I suggest you do the same. If you can’t find celery root, maybe pick up an extra rutabaga.
Two veggies that I would shy away from using is carrots and parsnips. Mainly this is just because of their shape. They are long and thin so they don’t really lend themselves to slicing and layering.
Step one is just to peel everything. Get them nice and clean.
Then slice everything!
I’m not saying that you can’t do this with a knife. You can. But I estimate that it would take you about 36 weeks to do with a knife.
With a mandoline slicer it takes about 36 seconds. Your choice!
Building the Gratin
There’s absolutely no rhyme or reason to the way I layered my gratin. For some reason I thought it made sense to put a layer of potatoes on the bottom and the top, so that’s what I did.
I also thought it would look cool to put the sweet potatoes right smack in the middle, so that’s what I did.
My exact layers as you can see below were: potatoes, turnips, sweet potatoes, cheese, celery root, rutabaga, potatoes.
Don’t forget to butter your dish before you start building these layers. It’ll make gratin removal a lot easier later.
Once your top layer is done, go ahead and strain your infused cream just to remove the garlic bits and thyme sprigs. Then pour the cream all over the potatoes.
Once the cream is poured, press down gently on the gratin so the cream gets kind of distributed between the layers.
Again, you could probably reduce the cream or use milk, but cream is good. Just go with it.
Add a light layer of cheese to the top of the dish to finish it off. While I go heavy on the cream, there’s no reason to go heavy on the cheese. A light layer is enough.
Baking the Gratin
Because of how dense this gratin is, it takes a while to bake. I recommend covering it with foil and then baking it at 350 degrees for about an hour.
Then remove the foil and bake it for another 20-30 minutes so the top gets nice and browned and crispy.
It’s really a thing of beauty.
Check out the layers!
This is a super rich dish and will easily feed a crowd.
Assuming you have the right equipment though, it isn’t that hard to make actually and you can use a wide range of fun root vegetables that you probably don’t use very often.
Give this gratin a go!