Monday, November 19, 2012

Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Gratin Recipe

Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Gratin Recipe 



This rich and creamy Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Gratin is flavored with garlic, fresh thyme, and Manchego cheese.  The ingredients are simple but indulgent, making this a perfect side dish for your next holiday meal.
It seems like we just finished eating a huge Thanksgiving meal and it’s already time to start thinking about Christmas dinner.  Between the big holiday meals and all the Christmas baking I plan on doing, I think I’ll have to ask Santa for some larger clothes this year!  But hey, that’s what New Year’s Resolutions are for, right?  I’ll worry about dieting in January.
I made my first Butternut Squash Gratin for Thanksgiving 2007, and although everyone seemed to enjoy it, I really thought it was kind of boring.  That dish was made with butternut squash, heavy cream, fresh thyme, and Gruyere cheese.  I know, it sounds good.  But it was just lacking something.  Although I never tried making a different version, it’s always been there at the back of my mind, waiting to be revised.
Since I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting with sweet potatoes in savory dishes lately, I thought it might be fun to add some sweet potato to the Butternut Squash Gratin to liven up the squash a bit.  I also added some garlic to the cream and used fresh sage in addition to the thyme.

The first version tasted really good but I decided I didn’t care much for the sage.  I loved the addition of the garlic and I thought the butternut squash and sweet potatoes went together nicely.  The sweet potatoes added a great punch of flavor and just a bit of sweetness that really perked up the dish.
The final version of the recipe is still very simple, but the garlic and sweet potatoes give it that something extra I was craving.  And I really love the Manchego cheese (that idea came from EAT).

I think this would be a great side dish for either Thanksgiving or Christmas as I think it would go nicely with just about any type of main course you could dream up.  Although it might be a little too rich for anything but a special occasion, I do think most of us can handle a dose of heavy cream during the holidays!
Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Gratin with Manchego Cheese

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 pound peeled butternut squash, quartered lengthwise*
1 pound peeled and trimmed sweet potatoes**
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 cups shredded Manchego cheese (or Gruyère)
1. Get Ready: Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a small pot bring cream and garlic just to a simmer.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Butter a 9″x13″ shallow casserole dish or gratin dish of similar size and set aside.
2. Prepare the Ingredients: thinly slice the squash and sweet potatoes (no more than 1/8 inch thick) and keep them separate from one another.  Measure out chopped thyme, salt, pepper, and shredded cheese and have them handy. Stir the cooling cream to help prevent skin from forming.
3. Build the Gratin: In the buttered casserole dish, spread half of the sliced butternut squash out in a single overlapping layer.  Sprinkle the squash with 1/3 of the salt, pepper, and thyme and then about 1/2 cup of the grated cheese. Using half of the sliced sweet potatoes, build a new overlapping layer.  Again sprinkle with 1/3 of the seasonings and 1/2 cup of shredded cheese.  Using the remaining squash, make another layer and sprinkle the last third of the seasonings and another 1/2 cup of cheese (you should have about 1/2 cup cheese remaining). Use the last of the sweet potatoes to make one final layer on top.  Stir the garlic cream mixture then pour it evenly over the top of the gratin, being sure to cover the top layer of sweet potatoes.  Shake the dish gently to distribute the cream.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.
4. Bake the Gratin: Cover the dish with foil and bake in the middle of a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil, move the gratin to the top 1/3 of the oven and bake, uncovered, for an additional 20 minutes or until the top is nicely browned and the vegetables are tender when pierced with a sharp knife. You may also place it under the broiler for a few minutes if you wish the top to be a deeper brown (but watch it closely!). Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes before slicing.
Yield: 12 servings
Recipe Notes: *I used the neck of a medium butternut squash and quartered it lengthwise. Butternut squash can easily be peeled with a vegetable peeler. Measure out one pound of squash after it is peeled and the stem has been removed. Save the remaining squash for another use. **Peel the potatoes and remove the pointy ends (save them for soup!) so you’ll have more uniform slices.  You need about one pound of prepared sweet potato.
Squash and sweet potatoes should be thinly sliced, no more than 1/8 inch thick.
Squash and sweet potatoes should be thinly sliced, no more than 1/8 inch thick.
You will need about 2 cups of shredded Manchego Cheese. If you can't find Manchego, you may substitute Gruyere.
You will need about 2 cups of shredded Manchego Cheese. If you can't find Manchego, you may substitute Gruyere.
Get your seasonings ready.  You'll need chopped fresh thyme, salt (preferably kosher), and fresh ground black pepper.
Get your seasonings ready. You'll need chopped fresh thyme, salt (preferably kosher), and fresh ground black pepper.
Use half of the butternut squash slices to form a single overlapping layer in the bottom of a greased 9x13 casserole dish (or use a similar sized gratin dish).
Use half of the butternut squash slices to form a single overlapping layer in the bottom of a greased 9x13 casserole dish (or use a similar sized gratin dish).
Sprinkle the squash with 1/3 of the salt, pepper, and thyme then sprinkle with about 1/2 cup of cheese.
Sprinkle the squash with 1/3 of the salt, pepper, and thyme then sprinkle with about 1/2 cup of cheese.
Now use half of the sliced sweet potatoes to form another single overlapping layer.
Now use half of the sliced sweet potatoes to form another single overlapping layer.
Now sprinkle with another third of your seasonings and another half cup of shredded cheese.
Now sprinkle with another third of your seasonings and another half cup of shredded cheese.
Use the rest of your butternut squash slices to form another layer.  This should be your third layer of vegetables.
Use the rest of your butternut squash slices to form another layer. This should be your third layer of vegetables.
Now sprinkle the remaining third of your seasonings and another 1/2 cup of cheese.  You should still have about 1/2 cup of cheese remaining.
Now sprinkle the remaining third of your seasonings and another 1/2 cup of cheese. You should still have about 1/2 cup of cheese remaining.
Now use the last of the sweet potatoes to form the top layer of the gratin.
Now use the last of the sweet potatoes to form the top layer of the gratin.
Pour the garlic cream sauce evenly over the top of the sweet potatoes.
Pour the garlic-infused cream evenly over the top of the sweet potatoes.
Finally, sprinkle the top of the gratin with the remaining shredded cheese.  Feel free to add a little extra if you have it!
Finally, sprinkle the top of the gratin with the remaining shredded cheese. Feel free to add a little extra if you have it!
Bake the gratin, covered with foil, in a 400 degree oven. After 30 minutes, remove the foil. It should be bubbly and the vegetables should be almost tender when pierced with a sharp knife.
Bake the gratin, uncovered, in the upper third of the oven for an additional 20 minutes or until the top is nicely browned.  If you want it darker, pop it under the broiler for a few minutes at the end (make sure to watch it closely!).
Bake the gratin, uncovered, in the upper third of the oven for an additional 20 minutes or until the top is nicely browned and the vegetables are completely tender. If you want it darker, pop it under the broiler for a few minutes at the end (make sure to watch it closely!).
Allow to cool for about half an hour before slicing. Enjoy!