Thursday, October 6, 2011

Root Vegetable Gratin – Notes from the Underground

[I hope you enjoyed our first and last Dostoevsky reference] Whenever I see those big piles of rutabagas at the market, I always think to myself, “who the heck is eating all these root vegetables?” 

I understand that there’ve been times when we literally had no choice – it was either gnaw on a parsnip or perish, but nowadays with so many other delicious choices, why would anyone eat root vegetables on purpose? Has anyone ever stumbled out of a smoky dorm room late at night, in search of a big plate of steamed turnips? Probably not. 

So, while you’ll never catch me boiling up a batch of these fugly roots to enjoy their intoxicating sulphurous savoriness, I have been known to tolerate them in the occasional gratin.

Of course, I cheated and added some potatoes to mellow things out, but still, all kidding aside, this is a very delicious and enjoyable way to eat them, and would make a fantastic side dish for the holidays. And yes, I do know that potatoes are tubers and not roots, so save your emails. Enjoy!


Ingredients:
1 turnip
1 rutabaga
1 small celery root
2 yukon gold potatotes
1 parsnip
* root vegetable sizes and shapes vary, but bottom line, you’ll need enough to fill a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish up 3/4 of the way
salt to taste (be sure to generously salt the boiling water!)
2 tsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
3 cloves minced garlic
1 cup cream
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cayenne
1 tbsp fresh picked thyme leaves
1 1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided

View the complete recipe

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you're an awesome chef AND you have great music taste!

Chef John said...

Guilty as charged! ;)

Anonymous said...

That looks fantastic!

Sarah said...

HAHA "Thyme-tested"

Oh wait... you meant time...

;)

Anonymous said...

Ah... Who wants to pretend to be my kids? (I'm 31.)

Dr Droop said...

There have been so many references over the time now I know for sure you have some kind of hip hop fetish :)

Anonymous said...

Potatoes aren't roots.

Monica said...

As a kid turnips were always on the menu along with rutabagas and hated to this day. Last night made an onion gratin and will try your recipe with potatoes and parsnips.

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous, didnt you hear him say that he knew potatoes werent roots, they were tubers.
Also, I am the child of a parent over 50 and I dont understand the music reference

Chef John said...

The Roots drummer is named Questlove :-)

rancholyn said...

I'm thinking this would go great with your slow cooker beef pot roast!!!!!

Jenna said...

This recipe so makes me want to cook a ham just so I have an excuse to make it! :)

Steve said...

Chef:

Maybe I'm weird (okay, no maybe about it) but I really like turnips raw. I eat them like apples.

But, anyhow, this looks great but it seemed a little loose. I'm wondering whether maybe some cheese mixed into the liquid might be a good idea -- maybe some Gruyere, added in layers?

Paul D said...

Thanks for the idea Chef John. As much as I love lasagna around this time of year...I'm lasagna'd out. I love your idea for the butter sauce with thyme. Knowing me I would pick something too gummy…like b├ęchamel with sage (dogmatist), and it would sit like a brick. That’s why I cook it your way - always that much better.

Cheers.

Chef John said...

Sure you can! Cheese would be great. I was going for something a little lighter.

Pantalone said...

Looks amazing. Still drooling ... gotta make it.

Anonymous said...

In defense of the noble root; one of my family's favorite dishes at our Grandmum's house in Sussex was broiled parsnips in butter, honey, and cardamom with lamb and mint sauce. It was fantastic. Nothing beats the slightly sweet, spicey goodness of parsnips that pairs so well with heavy British meats in winter.

Anonymous said...

Hi,
Love your videos! I was thinking maybe adding a tiny bit of flour to the butter to thicken up the sauce. Just a thought because I would like to try this recipe, going for healthy this winter and this fits the bill:)

Chris K. said...

If the turnip is the humble peasant of the root vegetable world, its cousin the parsnip is the country squire: more dignified but a bit eccentric. Obviously, the poor rutabaga is the village idiot.

On a less silly note, Jerusalem artichokes, or sunchokes, are a great alternative to the usual tubers and root vegetables.

Anonymous said...

I was rooting for you all the way thru the recipe until you got to the potato. I hate to break it to you, but potato is not a root, it's a tuber.

Chef John said...

You seem to have a lot of info for someone that didn't listen to the video OR read the post (mentioned tuber in both). Comment fail. ;)

Anonymous said...

Chef John - any substitute for cream?
Loved the video!

Babs said...

Curious - how well would this dish hold up in the fridge if you assembled it the day before? Probably fine right - just bring it back to room temp before baking?

Anonymous said...

I'd just like to mention that a potato isn't actually a root. Great site none the less

Chef John said...

It's best cooked the day ahead and then reheated!

There is no sub for cream, but any milk or broth will also work.

Chris K, well said!

Rooter said...

Ok, it was a poor attempt at humor I guess. Our was it? ;;>)

Anonymous said...

Chef - How can you tell a good turnip from a good parsnip? Are they supposed to be firm, spongy, bendy etc or what? Not sure how to pick the ripe or best ones.

Chef John said...

They are all the same, very hard, so if they are in the store, they are good choices.

Longtime Chef John fan but longer time Roots fan said...

Essaywhuman?

Anonymous said...

This was a healthy dish until you added potatoes!!!

Jim

GG said...

Chef John,

I have been looking for celery root and I can't find it so far. My next stop is a winter farmers market. I live in Boston. Is there a particular season for celery root? What can I substitute for it?

Shark said...

I've made it tonight.....
It was awesome!!!
I could hardly control myself to stop putting it into my mouth...
We ate it as main dish...

Thanks Chef John!!

cookinmom said...

I root for chef John...ha,ha get it! :) Sorry...couldn't resist. Can I make this with just say potatoes, or potatoes and rotabaga???