A Cornish girl's food adventures


The weather forecasters have started to predict snow flurries, which will be a shock to the system, so hearty warming food seems to be the order of the day.

root vegetable gratin

This is a really nice wintery dish and I always feel a bit better about eating this instead of a normal potato gratin because of the added veggie goodness.

Unlike a normal gratin however, I generally find it helpful to make a thin bechamel sauce, rather than just pouring over double cream because the swede adds a bit more water and you lose some of the starch, which would normally thicken the cream, by using fewer potatoes.
You can really chuck in whatever you like to flavour it, I tend to tailor it to whatever I plan to serve it with. I used mustard in this case to serve with a beef stew but sautéed leeks are nice for with pork or a big handful of mixed herbs with chicken or fish.
You could also throw some cheese, maybe Stilton, goats cheese or Wensleydale, amongst the layers of veg to make a hearty vegetarian main.
Half & half can be substituted for single cream if you need to.

root vegetable gratin

Serves 6-8 as a side
1kg assorted potatoes and root vegetables (I used swede, parsnips and 1 large potato)
250ml milk
250ml single cream
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp butter
1 heaped tbsp flour
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
salt and pepper
15g breadcrumbs
20g grated Parmesan cheese

Pre-heat your oven to 210°c.
Peel the garlic and pop it in a small pan along with the milk and cream. Gently heat this to infuse the flavour but don’t let it boil.
Whilst this is getting on with its thing you can peel and slice up all the veg. Slice them very thinly, a mandolin makes short work of this if you have one, just watch your fingers on the blade!
If you are throwing a couple of spuds into the mix then don’t bother to peel them just give them a good scrub.
Fish the garlic cloves out of the warm cream/milk and discard them, set the milk/cream to one side.
Melt the butter in another saucepan and then stir in the flour with a wooden spoon. Cook this for a few minutes over a low heat before adding in a little of the milk/cream mixture. Stir until the liquid has been absorbed and then add a little more of the milk/cream. Continue stirring and adding until all of the liquid has been used. By now you should have a slightly thickened creamy sauce. Season well with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Stir in the mustard (or chosen flavourings) and remove from the heat.
root vegetable gratin Layer the vegetables into a baking dish, pouring a little of the sauce between each layer and finishing off with the sauce.
Cover with foil and bake for about 50 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
Remove the foil from the gratin, mix the cheese and the breadcrumbs together and sprinkle them over the top. Return the uncovered dish to the oven for a further 10 minutes or so until the topping is browned and crispy and the sauce is bubbling around the edges.

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