If you’re looking for an elegant and over-the-top taste in a side vegetable, this is your ticket to success! Rich? Yes. Hard? No, not really, though it does take some prep work. Delicious? Absolutely!
Looking on my own blog archives, I see that I posted a similar gratin a year ago, a recipe that Phillis Carey made for a Butternut Squash & Caramelized Onion Gratin. That one is only butternut squash. This one, made by Diane Phillips at a cooking class I went to last month (and have since made myself) contains both butternut squash and potatoes in about equal measure. Phillis’ recipe used only Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, whereas this one uses Gruyere mostly, with a little bit of Parmigiano in it. Although Diane cooks global cuisines, she often does Italian food as her heritage is Italian, and she and her husband spend part of every year there.
But this dish, I think, is more French than Italian. There’s nothing much in it that rings of Italy except the Parmigiano, and nothing particular that rings French except the Gruyere, so I can’t pinpoint. Gratins are usually French, however!
There’s the casserole just before it went into the oven. Both butternut squash and Yukon potatoes (sliced on my mandoline at about 3/8 “ thick) are gently simmered in milk and cream until nearly done, then poured into an oiled baking dish, covered with a mixture of the cheeses and baked for about 45 minutes. Diane suggested 1/2” slices, but my mandoline only goes up to 3/8”, so that’s what this was – it may have cooked in less time, but otherwise there was no difference between mine and Diane’s. It also has a leek in it, some garlic, fresh thyme too. And if you’re feeling feisty, add some squirts of Tabasco (I didn’t when I made it just because there were children eating it).
Once baked it’s nice to let it sit out to cool just a bit – no question – if you had a bite of this straight from the oven you’d burn your mouth, so do let it rest for 5-10 minutes before digging into it. I took this to a family Christmas Eve dinner (the one above) and had a 2nd casserole that had enough for Christmas Day dinner as well. I reconfigured the recipe to serve 16 and it served more than that, I think. The casserole isn’t all that thick/deep, but because it’s rich, you don’t want to serve large portions. With a well-rounded dinner, I think this recipe below would feed 10 for sure, as long as nobody was doing seconds or taking a gigantic serving. Hungry teenagers? Well, it might only feed 6!
What’s GOOD: the combo of butternut squash and potatoes is sublime – the textures are different – but the mix produces a rich, silky casserole that’s everything you’d ever want in a beautiful, elegant side vegetable to a special occasion meal.
What’s NOT: well, only that it’s rich (it does contain heavy cream and ample grated cheese). But hey, it’s just one very special dish, not a regular weeknight kind of thing. It does take a bit of prep, but if you have a slicer or mandoline, it made quick work of the prep. I thought it was easier than expected.
* Exported from MasterCook *
Butternut Squash and Potato Gratin
Recipe By: Diane Phillips cooking class, 12/2015
Serving Size: 8
3 cups butternut squash — peeled, cut in 1/2″ slices
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes — scrubbed, 1/2″ slices
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 clove garlic — minced
1 whole leek — chopped finely, both white and tender green part
2 teaspoons fresh thyme — finely chopped
6 drops Tabasco sauce
1 1/2 cups Gruyere cheese — finely shredded
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated
NOTE: If you don’t have a leek, use half of a white onion, chop up and cook through in the milk/cream mixture.
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat the inside of a 9×13 baking dish with olive oil spray or nonstick cooking spray (not Pam).
2. In a large NONSTICK skillet, heat the squash slices, potato slices, milk, cream, garlic, leeks (or onion), thyme, Tabasco, and cook for 5-6 minutes, until the vegetables are almost done; they should be firm, but a knife will pierce them easily.
3. Transfer vegetables to prepared baking dish and sprinkle top with the cheeses.
4. Bake the gratin for 30-40 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the cheeses are golden brown. Allow to rest 5-10 minutes before serving. This dish is especially good with grilled meat, chicken or seafood.
Per Serving: 292 Calories; 19g Fat (58.1% calories from fat); 10g Protein; 21g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 69mg Cholesterol; 111mg Sodium.