Root Veg­etable Gratin is tasty side dish for Thanks­giv­ing

The Mercury (Pottstown, PA) - - FOOD - By Sara Moul­ton

The side dishes on our an­nual Thanks­giv­ing menu al­most al­ways in­clude mashed pota­toes and roasted root veg­eta­bles. This year I de­cided to change up the rou­tine by com­bin­ing the two, adding a lit­tle cream and top­ping off the hy­brid with some crunch. It’s heartier that way and tastier, too.

This recipe calls for a pound of turnips and one­half pound each of car­rots and parsnips. What if you’re not a fan of turnips? (Some folks find them a bit funky.) Just leave them out and in­crease the amount of car­rots and parsnips. But try not to mess with the spec­i­fied amount of pota­toes. It’s their starch that thick­ens the sauce.

The dairy is a com­bi­na­tion of cream and milk (the lat­ter light­ens the dish) in­fused with gar­lic, thyme and bay leaf. Sea­son­ing a gratin is usu­ally hit or miss — you sprin­kle some salt willy-nilly on top of the raw veg­eta­bles as you layer them into the bak­ing pan. Here we call for an ex­act mea­sure of salt to be added to and dis­solved into the cream/milk mix­ture. That way the sea­son­ing is per­fect.

It’s im­por­tant to make sure the veg­eta­bles are sliced thinly and evenly so that they all be­come ten­der at the same time. You can do it by hand, but you will get more uni­form re­sults with a man­do­line or the slic­ing disk of your food pro­ces­sor. (If you do choose to work with the man­do­line, be sure to put the guard into place.)

One fi­nal note — not all bak­ing pans per­form the same way in the oven. When I made this dish in a metal pan, the veg­eta­bles were ten­der in 40 min­utes. When I used a glazed earth­en­ware pan, they took over 50 min­utes. The dif­fer­ence speaks to the rel­a­tive abil­ity of each ma­te­rial to con­duct — or re­sist — heat. In ei­ther case, it’s cru­cial to keep an eye on the process.

Root Veg­etable Gratin

Start to fin­ish: 1 hour, 40 min­utes (40 ac­tive)

Serv­ings: 10 to 12


13/4 cups whole milk 2 cups heavy cream 4 large sprigs fresh thyme, crushed with a rolling pin 1 bay leaf 4 gar­lic cloves, smashed 2¼ tea­spoons kosher salt ½ tea­spoon freshly ground black pep­per 1 pound rus­set pota­toes 1 pound turnips ½ pound car­rots ½ pound parsnips 2 ounces freshly grated Parmi­giano-Reg­giano

3/4 cup panko bread­crumbs

2 ta­ble­spoons ex­tra-vir­gin olive oil


Pre­heat the oven to 375 de­grees; ad­just the oven rack to the mid­dle po­si­tion.

In a medium saucepan, com­bine the milk, cream, thyme, bay leaf, gar­lic, salt and pep­per; heat the mix­ture over medium-high heat un­til bub­bles form around the edge. Re­move from the heat, cover, and let steep while you pre­pare the veg­eta­bles.

Peel all the root veg­eta­bles. Us­ing a man­do­line or the slic­ing disk of a food pro­ces­sor, slice them cross­wise, 1/8-inch thick. Re­move and dis­card the thyme, bay leaf and gar­lic cloves from the cream mix­ture and pour one-fourth of the mix­ture into a 9-by-13inch bak­ing pan. Add the veg­eta­bles and the re­main­ing milk mix­ture to the bak­ing pan (the liq­uid will just come up to the level of the veg­eta­bles). Stir the veg­eta­bles to make sure they are sep­a­rated and then press them down to dis­trib­ute them evenly. Bake the gratin on the mid­dle shelf of the oven for 25 min­utes. Re­move the pan from the oven and press the veg­eta­bles down with a large metal spat­ula. Re­turn the gratin to the oven and bake un­til the liq­uid has thick­ened and veg­eta­bles are ten­der when pricked with a knife, about 15 to 25 min­utes more.

In a bowl com­bine the cheese, panko and oil; sprin­kle the mix­ture evenly over the top of the pan. Re­turn the pan to the oven and bake un­til the top is browned, about 10 min­utes.

Cool for 5 min­utes be­fore serv­ing.

Nu­tri­tion in­for­ma­tion per serv­ing: 261 calo­ries; 158 calo­ries from fat; 18 g fat (10 g sat­u­rated; 0 g trans fats); 56 mg choles­terol; 552 mg sodium; 21 g car­bo­hy­drates; 3 g fiber; 6 g su­gar; 6 g protein.

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