This Oct. 19 photo shows a root vegetable gratin made with turnips, carrots and parsnips. This dish is from a recipe by Sara Moulton. (Sara Moulton via AP)

This Oct. 19 photo shows a root vegetable gratin made with turnips, carrots and parsnips. This dish is from a recipe by Sara Moulton. (Sara Moulton via AP)

Root Vegetable Gratin is tasty side dish for Thanksgiving

  • By SARA MOULTON
  • Thursday, November 2, 2017 3:09pm
  • LifeFood

The side dishes on our annual Thanksgiving menu almost always include mashed potatoes and roasted root vegetables. This year I decided to change up the routine by combining the two, adding a little cream and topping off the hybrid with some crunch. It’s heartier that way and tastier, too.

This recipe calls for a pound of turnips and one-half pound each of carrots and parsnips. What if you’re not a fan of turnips? (Some folks find them a bit funky.) Just leave them out and increase the amount of carrots and parsnips. But try not to mess with the specified amount of potatoes. It’s their starch that thickens the sauce.

The dairy is a combination of cream and milk (the latter lightens the dish) infused with garlic, thyme and bay leaf. Seasoning a gratin is usually hit or miss — you sprinkle some salt willy-nilly on top of the raw vegetables as you layer them into the baking pan. Here we call for an exact measure of salt to be added to and dissolved into the cream/milk mixture. That way the seasoning is perfect.

It’s important to make sure the vegetables are sliced thinly and evenly so that they all become tender at the same time. You can do it by hand, but you will get more uniform results with a mandoline or the slicing disk of your food processor. (If you do choose to work with the mandoline, be sure to put the guard into place.)

One final note — not all baking pans perform the same way in the oven. When I made this dish in a metal pan, the vegetables were tender in 40 minutes. When I used a glazed earthenware pan, they took over 50 minutes. The difference speaks to the relative ability of each material to conduct — or resist — heat. In either case, it’s crucial to keep an eye on the process.

Root Vegetable Gratin

Start to finish: 1 hour, 40 minutes (40 active)

Servings: 10 to 12

1 3/4 cups whole milk

2 cups heavy cream

4 large sprigs fresh thyme, crushed with a rolling pin

1 bay leaf

4 garlic cloves, smashed

2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound russet potatoes

1 pound turnips

1/2 pound carrots

1/2 pound parsnips

2 ounces freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees; adjust the oven rack to the middle position.

In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, cream, thyme, bay leaf, garlic, salt and pepper; heat the mixture over medium-high heat until bubbles form around the edge. Remove from the heat, cover, and let steep while you prepare the vegetables.

Peel all the root vegetables. Using a mandoline or the slicing disk of a food processor, slice them crosswise, 1/8-inch thick. Remove and discard the thyme, bay leaf and garlic cloves from the cream mixture and pour one-fourth of the mixture into a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Add the vegetables and the remaining milk mixture to the baking pan (the liquid will just come up to the level of the vegetables). Stir the vegetables to make sure they are separated and then press them down to distribute them evenly. Bake the gratin on the middle shelf of the oven for 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and press the vegetables down with a large metal spatula. Return the gratin to the oven and bake until the liquid has thickened and vegetables are tender when pricked with a knife, about 15 to 25 minutes more.

In a bowl combine the cheese, panko and oil; sprinkle the mixture evenly over the top of the pan. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the top is browned, about 10 minutes.

Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Nutrition information per serving: 261 calories; 158 calories from fat; 18 g fat (10 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 56 mg cholesterol; 552 mg sodium; 21 g carbohydrates; 3 g fiber; 6 g sugar; 6 g protein.

Sara Moulton is host of public television’s “Sara’s Weeknight Meals.” She was executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years and spent a decade hosting several Food Network shows, including “Cooking Live.” Her latest cookbook is “HomeCooking 101.”

More in Life

Nick Varney
Unhinged Alaska: A Christmas artist and a cyber safari

My attempts at adornment layouts come across as being colorfully sculptured landfills

File
Minister’s Message: Keep your faith focused on Jesus

Don’t let fear make you slip from faith

Hip-Hop students practice their routines for Forever Christmas on Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, at Forever Dance in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Forever Dance rings in the holidays with variety show

The show serves as a fun holiday tradition and an opportunity to get on stage early in the season

Image courtesy 20th Century 
Ralph Fiennes is Chef Julien Slowik and Anya Taylor-Joy is Margot in “The Menu”
On the Screen: ‘The Menu’ serves up fun twists and earnest commentary

I was plenty interested in the film I saw in the trailers, but the one I saw at the theater was so much more

Golden Soup mixes cauliflower, onions and apples and can be made in one pot. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Golden soup offers a healthy reprieve after holiday indulgence

On the off days between the trips and celebrations I find it necessary to eat strategically

Photo courtesy of the National Archives 
This photo and information from a “prison book” at San Quentin state prison in California shows Arthur Vernon Watson when he entered the prison at age 23.
Justice wasn’t elementary, Watson, Part 2

Well before he shot and killed a man in Soldotna in 1961, Arthur Vernon Watson was considered trouble

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: Thanksgiving

We at least have a good idea of what our political future looks like.

This is Arthur Vernon Watson at age 39, when he was transferred from the federal prison in Atlanta to the penitentiary on Alcatraz Island near San Francisco. (Photo courtesy of the National Archives)
Justice wasn’t elementary, Watson, Part 3

Anchorage probation officer Roy V. Norquist was monitoring Arthur’s movements and reported that he was pleased with what he saw

Most Read