SWEET POTATO GRATIN

 

I originally developed this for a recipe & cooking contest on Food 52 which needed to feature maple syrup.  The real stuff.  Sweet potatoes seemed like a natural paring.  As I thought my way down through the layers of the dish, I realized that I needed something to balance the sweetness of the potatoes and the maple syrup.  I was going for a side dish, not a dessert.

Salty.  I needed something salty.  And tender, I wanted tender textures throughout.  I wandered over to my favorite deli/wine shop and just stood in front of the cheese array, arms crossed, a pensive look on my face.  The lovely ladies there are used to me needing to just stand and think, so they kindly let me take my time.  And if I should happen to mumble out loud, they don’t give it a thought.  At least they don’t say anything within earshot.  So when my gaze landed on a Brie au Bleu, and I shouted, “Oh, that’s IT!” they all but clapped their hands.  It’s one of my favorite cheeses, Brie with salty veins of bleu cheese shot through its creaminess.  And Brie melts like butter.

I typically use bread crumbs or Panko in layers and on top of a gratin.  I decided not to here because I wanted a soft consistency throughout.  If you can’t imagine a gratin without at least a topping of crunch, feel free to sauté some crumbs in a couple of tablespoons of butter and scatter them over the surface.

And how to finish it off?  Vegetable stock just didn’t sound right.  I didn’t think it was going to bring out enough flavor.  Chicken stock?  Too many competing flavors.  Cream?  Yes.  And since I intended to slice the sweet potatoes on the thinnest setting of my mandoline, I knew I wouldn’t need a lot of it for the potatoes to cook adequately.  Too, I had a feeling that it would be rich enough that a small serving would be very satisfying.

Even though days are bright and warm(ish), evenings still cool rapidly – good weather for a deep gratin.  Serve it with anything you like.  Leftovers reheat perfectly, and in fact make a wonderful breakfast topped with a poached egg.

Serves 4

  • 1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, not more than 1 pound total
  • 4.5 ounce round of Brie au Bleu
  • Soft butter for brushing the casserole
  • 1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
  • Several grinds of pepper
  • 2 ounces of your favorite maple syrup, medium amber
  • 6 ounces heavy cream (or half & half)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Peel the sweet potato(es) and slice them as thin as possible. This is an excellent job for the thin setting on a mandoline.
  3. Trim the rind from around the edge of the round of brie, then carefully slice off both the bottom and top rinds. There is nothing objectionable about their flavor – in fact, they’re very tender and you should definitely eat them with some good bread or crackers. Rather, the cheese will melt to a much better consistency within the gratin with the rind removed. Slice the Brie thinly, narrower than 1/2″.
  4. Run a pastry brush over some soft butter, then brush the inside of a 2-quart casserole, hopefully with a lid.
  5. Arrange half of the sweet potato slices in the bottom of the casserole, fanning them apart with your fingers. Try to get the layer as level as possible. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of salt over them, followed by some grinds of pepper. Drizzle 1 ounce of maple syrup over the sweet potatoes, followed by 3 ounces of heavy cream. Arrange the slices of Brie in a single layer. Over the Brie, distribute the remaining slices of sweet potato. Sprinkle with another 1/2 teaspoon of salt and some grinds of pepper. Pour over them the remaining ounce of maple syrup and the last 3 ounces of cream. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil and place in oven.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the lid or foil and bake for another 20 minutes. The gratin is done when the potatoes feel tender when pierced with a sharp knife, the cream is reduced and thickened, and the surface is lightly browned. Remove from oven, replace lid or foil, and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

 

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About thesolitarycook

I'm a chef, a cook, a teacher, a reader, a writer, a bike-rider, a dog- and cat-woman
This entry was posted in Breakfast, RECIPES, Side Dishes, Vegetarian and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to SWEET POTATO GRATIN

  1. Love this creamy gratin, the flavors are perfect together and the brie au bleu must add just the right saltiness to make it a savory dish. Beautiful!

  2. Karen Rush says:

    It has been raining all night – autumn down under is upon us. I have friends coming over for dinner tonight so I plan on cooking this wonderful recipe. Loved your disaster day blog … still making me laugh.

  3. Hannah says:

    I am drooling now after reading about your gratin. Including Brie au Bleu is marvelous. I’ll have a serving topped with a poached egg, too, please!

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