Great Gratins! A Perfect Side Dish This Holiday Season
Whether you choose turkey, lamb or ham, beef or even fish for your next festive meal, gratin is a tasty side dish that works with practically any menu. Potato gratin is the most common form, but carrots can easily substitute for potatoes. Try this Carrot & Bechamel Gratin, adapted from a New York Times recipe by Greg Henry of www.sippitysup.com. If you’ve never made béchamel, here’s your chance, as this dish starts with a simple white sauce preparation. The combination of delicate-sweet carrots with shallots, fresh marjoram, chive and Jarlsberg, is sublime.
Carrot & Béchamel Gratin
(adapted from Greg Henry)
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 T shallots, minced
2 T all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
salt and pepper as needed
2 T unsalted butter
1⁄2 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 lb carrots, sliced crosswise into thin rounds
2 t fresh marjoram leaves, minced
2 t chives, minced
1⁄2 cup Jarlsberg cheese, cooled then grated
Prepare the béchamel. Heat the oil over medium heat in a heavy medium saucepan. Add the shallot, and cook, stirring, until softened, about three minutes. Stir in flour, and cook, stirring, for about three minutes until smooth and bubbling but not browned. Whisk in the milk all at once, and bring to a simmer, whisking continuously, until the mixture begins to thicken. Turn the heat to very low, and simmer, stirring often with a whisk and scraping the bottom and edges of the pan with a rubber spatula, for 10 minutes until the sauce has thickened and lost its raw flour taste. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat set aside.
Prepare the topping. Melt the butter in a small saute pan set over medium heat. Add the panko breadcrumbs and stir to coat. Continue stirring occasionally until the breadcrumbs are light golden brown. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon marjoram.
Make the gratin. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Oil a 2-quart gratin dish. Fill a medium saucepan with water, and bring to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt and then the carrots. Reduce the heat to medium, and simmer the carrots for 4 minutes or so until just tender. Whisk 1/2 cup of the cooking water into the reserved béchamel, then drain the carrots. Transfer them to a large bowl. Stir in the remaining marjoram, chives, salt and pepper to taste, the béchamel and Jarlsberg. Scrape into the baking dish.
Place in the oven, and bake 20 to 30 minutes until the top is lightly browned and the gratin is bubbling. Remove from the heat, allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes and serve.
Greg Henry writes the food blog Sippity Sup- Serious Fun Food, and contributes the Friday column on entertaining forThe Back Burner at Key Ingredient. He’s active in the food blogging community, and a popular speaker at IFBC, Food Buzz Festival andCamp Blogaway. He’s led cooking demonstrations in Panama & Costa Rica, and has traveled as far and wide as Norway to promote culinary travel. He’s been featured in Food & Wine Magazine, Los Angeles Times, More Magazine, The Today Show Online and Saveur’s Best of the Web. Greg also co-hosts The Table Set podcast which can be downloaded on iTunes or atHomefries Podcast Network and was named one of The LA Weekly’s 5 favorite podcasts for food lovers.