Food & Wine (March 2009)
But let's cut to the chase: This root-vegetable gratin is delicious. It is stunningly, vibrantly, gorgeously, out-of-this-world delicious.
Whether you're looking for a vegetarian entree or not, you've just got to make this the next chance you get. Pair this gratin with a simple salad, and you've got a perfect meal.
Truth be told, we were a little skeptical about this dish. Sure, we're suckers for root vegetables. We love sweet potatoes, butternut squash and rutabaga. And we really love cooking with panko, the crispy little Japanese bread crumbs. We always have some on hand these days. For adding a crunch to fish, pork chops or even chicken, we think panko is better than traditional bread crumbs.
We just weren't sure how well this would all come together.
But trust us when we say this: We are in love. This gratin is absolutely amazing. The sweetness of the squash and sweet potatoes plays perfectly off the more earthy, turnip-y taste of the rutabaga. This is a great alternative to a traditional white-potato-and-cheese gratin (and it's more healthful, too). It's got a lovely depth of flavor, and the broiled panko crust gives it a fantastic crunchiness.
One side note: This is one of those dishes that really is much, much easier to prepare if you have a mandoline. There's a whole lot of slicing required, and it would be hard -- for us and our knife skills, anyway -- to slice the vegetables thin enough using a knife and a free hand. Of course you could prepare this recipe without a mandoline, but all that slicing might get a little tiresome.
We can't say enough what a nice surprise this dish was: soft and warm, with a fantastic blend of flavors. We're looking forward to making it again very soon. And you should too!
Use a mandoline to cut the vegetables into thin slices; they will turn tender when baked with chicken broth and a little cream.
* ACTIVE: 25 MIN
* TOTAL TIME: 2 HRS 15 MIN
* SERVINGS: 8
* 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled
* 1 butternut squash neck (2 1/4 pounds) from a large butternut squash, peeled
* 1 medium rutabaga (2 pounds), peeled and halved lengthwise
* Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
* 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
* 1/4 cup heavy cream
* 3/4 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
* 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Using a mandoline, slice the potatoes and squash lengthwise 1/8 inch thick. Slice the rutabaga crosswise 1/8 inch thick.
2. Spray an 8-by-12-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange half of the potatoes in the dish, overlapping them slightly; season with salt and pepper. Top with half of the rutabaga and the squash, seasoning each layer. Repeat the layering. Pour the broth over and around the vegetables.
3. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour, until the vegetables are almost tender when pierced. Remove the foil and pour the cream over the gratin. Bake for about 30 minutes longer, until the liquid has thickened.
4. Preheat the broiler. Mix the panko with the oil and season with salt and pepper; sprinkle over the gratin. Broil 3 inches from the heat for 2 minutes, until golden, rotating for even browning. Let the gratin stand for 10 minutes, then serve.