Friday, January 4, 2013

Turnip Gratin

Among the various wrapped gifts I received at Christmas, I was also given a plastic grocery bag full of turnips.  That may not seem like a very exciting thing, but they were much appreciated.  I happen to really like turnips, but in the grocery store these roots are often marred, tiny, and overpriced (for the quality you are getting.)  This meal was supposed to be my last indulgence of dairy (i.e. cheese) for a while.  Well, my subtle, unspoken resolution of eating less cheese is already a bust.  It is the morning of day 4 of 2013 and I have eaten cheese the past three days, with no hope in sight for today.

Turnip Gratin
5-6 med-lrg turnips
2 med potatoes
1 C-1 1/2 C shredded cheese (we used a cheddar/jack blend)
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
2 cloves garlic, minced (~2 tsp)
1 1/4 C heavy cream
1/2 C water
1 oz cream cheese
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried thyme
pinch of cayenne
3/4 C crushed crackers (I used mini Bretons)
1 1/2 Tbsp oil or melted butter

   Peel and thinly slice turnips and potatoes.  A mandolin* is the perfect tool for this job.
   Heat butter over med heat and saute garlic for about 1 minute.  Add flour, whisk so there are no lumps.  Slowly add cream and water to flour and butter, whisk constantly while adding so lumps don't form.  Melt in cream cheese.  Add salt, thyme, and cayenne.  Cook over med heat for 7-8 minutes, stirring regularly so the dairy does not scorch.
   In a lightly sprayed baking dish (9x9 or small crock like mine, which is roughly 9x6x3) start layering turnips and potatoes.  After 2-3 layers, sprinkle some cheese.  Continue this process until the baking dish is full or you run out of vegetables.  Pour cream mixture over the top.
   Bake covered at 375 deg F for 30-40 minutes.
   Mix crushed crackers and oil.
   Top gratin with crackers after it has finished its first baking.  Return to 375 deg F oven for 20-25 minutes.  A butter knife should easily slide into the center of the gratin, that is how you will know it is done.
   Serves 6.
   We served this alongside green cabbage braised with bacon and Aidell's Roasted Garlic and Gruyere Chicken Sausages.

Kitchen Mandoline- an adjustable slicer that allows you to quickly and easily make very thin slices.  They can be veeeeery pricey, but decent ones can be found for about $30.  Mine is a really crappy $12 Walmart one that doesn't work so hot.  The blades could be sharper and the inserts that have the places tend to pop out of place if you are not careful.  But even that piece of shit can handle some turnips and white potatoes... nothing much harder though.  One of my next kitchen purchases will be a nicer piece so I can slice things thin enough to make chips in my new deep fryer!

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