Grateful for Gratin

I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate. --Julia Child

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone (for those of you keeping track, the 2010 Drink of the Day was an autumn version of "Sex on the Beach" which went better with Turducken than I thought it would...more on that later), I'm in full winter food mode.  

Chris and I even decorated for Christmas early this year -- we usually wait until the first weekend in December-- and all the lights and trees made me hungry for something rich and creamy and warm.  I decided to try my hand at a gratin made from a mix of new and red potatoes and the addition of Jerusalem artichokes (also known as sunchokes).  I had a ton of these odd little tubers in my last box and was stumped on what to do with them.  Jerusalem artichokes/sunchokes kind of look like ginger root, but they are in the sunflower family. They have a flavor and aroma that is very similar to artichokes -- but without all the work that comes with preparing an artichoke.  (Just the thing for a lazy winter day.) 

I made this lovely gratin to go with a hearty meal of grilled steak, and a wilted spinach, bacon and baby bok choy salad.  The mix of potatoes and the artichoke flavor was just what I had in mind for the last weekend of November...winter soul food.

Gourmess Sunchoke and Potato Gratin
1.5 lb Jerusalem Artichokes
1lb red potatoes
1.5 lb new potatoes
4 TBS butter (unsalted) diced into small cubes
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 TB fresh chopped parsley
2 tsp grated nutmeg
1.5 cups heavy cream
2 cups grated Asiago or Gruyere cheese 
Salt/pepper to taste

  • Preheat oven to 400F degrees. 
  • Butter a casserole/gratin dish and set aside.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the Jerusalem artichokes and potatoes and boil for about 10 minutes, until just starting to soften. (Alternately, you can use one of those Ziploc steamer bags -- put the sunchokes in one bag and the potatoes in another and zap in the microwave for about 5 minutes each.) Drain and cool, then peel off the skins (use your fingers or a knife) and slice into rounds about the thickness of two quarters. 
  • Put a layer of the potato slices on the bottom of the buttered dish, overlapping them a bit. Add a few squares of butter, a pinch of the garlic, parsley and nutmeg, and season to taste with salt/pepper.
  • Top with a layer of the Jerusalem artichokes, butter, herbs, etc. and repeat the layers until all your ingredients are used up.
  • Pour about 1 cup of heavy cream over the top surface and place the dish in the oven.
  • Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the top browns and the cream thickens.
  • Take the dish out of the oven, add the remaining cream, top with the grated cheese and put back in the oven.
  • Raise the oven temperature to 450F and bake about 15 minutes more, or until the cheese is bubbly, the gratin is golden brown and the cream is custard-like.  
  • Serve and enjoy!