Fall Gratin of Fennel, Apple and Potato

September 30, 2014 | By | Reply More

fall gratin

An Indian Summer is like the puberty of weather. In the same way as adolescence, there’s an awkward disconnect between what’s going on in our minds and the physical reality of things. Take this past weekend for example. It came on the heels of several weeks of cool days and even cooler nights that got me mentally ready for fall.  Then, BAM, a weekend of mid-80s, sun, and humidity.

Most people I encountered were thrilled – “Yay! It’s still summer!” As for me, I just kind of resented the whole thing. I have stopped getting my summer pedicures,  and I want to wear a sweater. So, in defiance, I cooked up this perfect-for-fall gratin that we ate indoors to avoid the heat and persistent mosquitos.

This fall gratin, ever-so-slightly adapted from Grow, Cook, Eat by Willi Galloway is simply fabulous. The caramelized fennel is the perfect partner for fall apples and potatoes. I like this with roast chicken, and I think it would be a wonderful make-ahead side dish for Thanksgiving. We usually keep it vegetarian though and simply pair it with a crisp salad. Bitter greens help balance out the cheesy richness of the gratin, so incorporate arugula or baby mustard greens dressed simply with a bracing, citrusy vinaigrette.

For a gluten-free option without sacrificing the crunchy topping, substitute coarsely chopped almonds for the panko breadcrumbs. I think this fall gratin is suitable for the solo cook, too since leftovers are mighty fine, even when reheated in the microwave.

Ingredients (Serves 6)

fall gratin

Core of the fennel bulb

1 or 2 bulbs of fennel, totaling one pound, trimmed, cored, and thinly sliced (reserve some of the fennel fronds for the topping)

1/2 large yellow onion, thinly sliced

5 Tbsp. butter, divided

2 Granny Smith apples, totaling about 12 ounces, peeled, cored, quartered and thinly sliced

One pound russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

1 1/2 cups grated Gruyere cheese

1 cup heavy cream

1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves

Freshly ground pepper

1 cup panko bread crumbs

2 Tbsp. chopped reserved fennel fronds

If you cut a fennel bulb in half lengthwise, it’s easier to cut out the core.

Step one:

1 or 2 bulbs of fennel, totaling one pound, trimmed, cored, and thinly sliced (reserve some of the fennel fronds for the topping)

1/2 large yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 Tbsp. butter

Preheat the oven to 375°.

fall gratinMelt the butter over medium heat in a large, oven-proof skillet (I use cast iron) and add onion and fennel. Stir to coat with butter and cook, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes. The vegetables should be tender, cooked down significantly, and beginning to caramelize. While they are cooking, you can prepare the apples and potatoes and grate the cheese.

Step two: 

2 Granny Smith apples, totaling about 12 ounces, peeled, cored, quartered and thinly sliced

One pound russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

1 1/2 cups grated Gruyere cheese

1 cup heavy cream

1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves

Freshly ground pepper

In a very large bowl, mix the apples, potatoes, cheese, cream, and thyme leaves with the cooked vegetables. Season the mixture with fresh pepper. Dump everything back into the skillet and smooth the top.

fall gratinStep three:

Remaining 3 Tbsp. butter

1 cup panko bread crumbs

2 Tbsp. chopped reserved fennel fronds

Melt the butter and combine it with the bread crumbs and chopped fennel fronds. Sprinkle mixture over vegetables in the skillet. Cover skillet with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes to brown the top. Sometimes, I finish the dish for just a moment under the broiler to really get the top brown and crispy.

 

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Category: Fall, Food, General, Main Dishes, Recipes

Leave a Reply

Read previous post:
growing food
Growing Food and Independence

As I get older, I get more reflective - I suppose we all do. I spend time looking back at...

Close