If you've never visited La Tartine Gourmande, you're in for a treat. It's a beautiful blog written by Béatrice Peltre, a French expat who lives in Massachusetts with her family, cooks breathtaking food, takes gorgeous pictures of it, and writes lovingly of the whole process. Her new book, La Tartine Gourmande: Recipes for an Inspired Lifeis incredibly beautiful, too.
I found the recipe for this gratin on Béa's blog and made only a few tiny modifications to it. She had me at the very first step - infusing the milk and cream with garlic and thyme to impart more flavor.
Celeriac (a.k.a. celery root) is one of those little-lauded, sadly unsung root veggies that sometimes show up in the produce box from your CSA or that you might see at the farmers market and think, "What on earth is that thing?" But it has a surprisingly pleasing, earthy, starchy flavor that is great in lots of things -- I love adding grated celery root to my potato latkes and it adds a nice crunchy note to salads -- and really blossoms in a gratin.
This gratin was born out of a need to use up the simply ENORMOUS knob of celeriac we received in our last CSA delivery of the season a few weeks back (don't worry, celery root keeps forever -- according to Wikipedia it will keep for 3-4 months if stored properly.) This homely rootball was so big that I could barely hold on to it with one hand. And the tangled up roots crawling all over each other put me in mind of some strange alien life-form... But I knew it would taste good, no matter how it looked.
As we also received two lovely leeks in the last of the season's bounty, I decided to add them although Béa's recipe did not call for any alliums. The only other change I made was adding some cheese (couldn't help it...)
I put my beloved Kyocera mandolin to use for both the celery root and the potatoes in this dish with good results. The slices of celery root it produced were so delicate and white -- they reminded me of angel wings.
Don't be afraid to let the top get nicely browned - that's the whole point of a gratin.
Hope you enjoy this warm, hearty autumn dish.
Celeriac Potato Gratin
* 1 lb + 5 oz potatoes, preferably Yukon Gold or Yellow Finn
* 14 oz celeriac
* 3 garlic cloves
* 7 fluid oz whole milk (7/8 cup)
* 7 fluid oz heavy cream (7/8 cup)
* 2 leeks, washed and sliced (white parts only)
* 1 1/2 cup Gruyère or sharp cheddar cheese, grated
* 3 thyme twigs
* 1 Tbsp parsley, chopped finely
* Sea salt
* Freshly ground black pepper
1. Pour the milk and cream in a pot and bring to a boil (watch closely as it's very easy to boil over). Add two peeled garlic cloves (crushed) and the thyme twigs. Stop the heat and cover to let infuse for 30 minutes. Then remove the thyme and garlic from the milk/cream preparation.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Sautée the leeks in butter until softened, then remove from heat and set aside.
3. In the meantime, peel the potatoes and celeriac and slice them thinly (use a mandolin if you have one).
4. Place the vegetables in two different bowls and season each with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Rub a large baking dish or casserole pan with the third clove of garlic and then grease the dish well with butter.
5. Arrange the slices of vegetables in alternating layers (potatoes, celeriac, leeks, cheese) until you've used up all of the ingredients. Add the chopped parsley to the milk/cream preparation and pour it over the vegetables. Add a dash of nutmeg and place in the preheated oven at 400 F for 45 to 50 minutes (all the liquid should be absorbed). Serve warm.
You might also like:
- Turnip Gratin
- Swiss Chard & Barley Gratin
- Rumbledethumps - A Scottish Cabbage, Potato & Cheese Casserole