Root Vegetable Gratin
Can you believe that over 1 million children in the United States go to bed hungry every night? I am not sure about you, but I had no idea it was that bad. I am sure that statistic makes everyone sad, but when I look at the little faces of my own children- it just about breaks my heart.
When I was invited to join the “Share our Holiday Table” a group of 50 food bloggers who have joined together to support SHARE OUR STRENGTH’S “no kid hungry” campaign, I jumped at the chance. They have made a serious commitment to try to end childhood hunger in the United States by 2015 and I would love to help in any way I can. If you are interested you can get information, take “the pledge” as well as donate money or time HERE.
As a fun way to raise awareness, the 50 food bloggers have created an incredible “progressive dinner” which is running between 12/6-12/14. The dinner ranges from drinks and appetizers to dessert, and fall into one of the following four categories: gourmet, family friendly, vegetarian and gluten free. (I will post the back courses at the end of my recipe).
My part in the progressive dinner is a “gourmet” side dish. I wasn’t immediately sure what I would make, but as many other recipes have- this lovely side dish was born in my weekly produce bin! It is overflowing with gorgeous root vegetables, and they just seemed to be dying for a more luxurious presentation than usual! I thought about the ways that I could use them all together, and came up with the most wonderful common thread: Cheese. Well, really it’s cream and cheese. Mornay sauce to be exact, the classic French béchamel with cheese whisked in for good measure.
The earthy flavors of all the root vegetables are amazing, yet subtly different. There is the sweetness of the yam and golden beet, and the freshness of the celery root. Or the buttery flavors of the rutabaga and creamy potatoes mixed with the peppery turnip. Combined with the rich Mornay sauce, you are left with bites of creamy, rich decadence with a lovely earthy aroma. Decadence=Holidays….right?!
Root Vegetable Gratin, serves 6
(I used 6 individual serving baking dishes, but you could also bake this in one large dish as well- just increase baking time by about 20 minutes)
1 large celery root
1 medium yam, (I used a garnet)
1 large golden beet
1 large rutabaga, (or two small)
4-6 assorted fingerling potatoes (depending on size)
Mornay sauce (recipe below)
Trim and peel all of the vegetables with a sharp knife or peeler.
Slice them as thinly as possible with a mandolin or very sharp knife.
3 Tbs flour
3 Tbs butter
3 ½ cups cream
¼ cup Comte cheese shredded
¼ cup Tellagio cheese, in chunks
Kosher salt and black pepper
In a small pot, bring 3 cups of heavy cream to a simmer.
In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk until they are combined. Cook until the raw flour flavor is gone, but the roux has not taken on any color.
With the roux is still hot, begin to whisk in a little of the hot cream at a time. Whisk hard to avoid lumps.
Gradually whisk all the rest of the cream in and make sure it is nice and smooth.
Add the Tellagio and the Comte cheese and stir until smooth. Whisk the ½ cup of milk to thin and remove from heat.
Season the sauce with kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Add a pinch of nutmeg.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Butter the ramekins.
Spread a little of the Mornay sauce on the bottoms of the 6 ramekins, and then place the celery root on top of the béchamel. Place a few of the onions on top of the celery root and sprinkle with salt.
Next spread a little more Mornay sauce and then top with the fingerling potatoes and the turnips. Sprinkle with salt.
Add a little more Mornay sauce and top with the golden beets. Sprinkle with salt and top with Mornay sauce.
Add the rutabaga slices and a little fresh thyme and salt. Top with the yams and a drizzle of truffle oil.
Add a thick layer of Mornay sauce to the top of the ramekins. Top with a little fresh thyme.
Place the ramekins on a baking sheet (so that any sauce that bubbles over will wind up on the sheet pan and not your oven!). Bake the gratin’s for about 30 minutes or until the top is hot and bubbly.
Serve immediately, while still hot. Top with a little more fresh thyme and another tiny drizzle of truffle oil for a fragrant finish.
December 10: Entrees
December 9: Soup
December 8: Salads
December 7: Drinks
December 6: Appetizers