warm, cheesy root vegetables make these individual gratins delicious...
I love making gratin. I have a memory of being a young girl, helping my grandmother (who NEVER cooked) make a classic potato grain for Thanksgiving. Over the years I’ve made many versions, and this is one of my favorites. The combination of Yukon Gold potatoes and parsnips, with Gruyère, Pecorino and brown butter cream is really something special.
Slicing the potatoes and parsnips can be tedious. I highly recommend buying a mandolin to cut them – just remember to always us the guard because mandolins are extremely sharp! I’ve linked my favorite one here.
I’m basically a hoarder of kitchen and tabletop items, and these cocottes are some of my favorite things. I have them in a range of colors, as well as solid cast iron black. I purchased the black set many years ago in San Francisco when a restaurant supply store had them on sale. They’re NOT cheap, they’re a major investment. But one that will make you happy for years. If you want a set as well, here is a link to the cocottes that I have. Ramekins make an excellent, and cheaper alternative.
These indulgent little pots are so delicious, you’ll be scraping the bottom of your cocotte! If you don’t like parsnips swap them out with celery root or event carrots, for a sweeter, more colorful gratin.
- 6 large Yukon Gold potatoes, very thinly sliced
- 6 large parsnips, peeled and very thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup finely chopped garlic
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 stick salted butter at room temperature, plus more butter for the inside of the cocottes or ramekins
- 2 cups half & half
- 3 cups shredded gruyère
- 2 cups finely grated Pecorino
- 1/2 cup flour – all-purpose or gluten-free
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Butter the inside of your cocottes or ramekins, put them on a tin foil or parchment paper lined baking sheet and set them aside.
Put the potatoes and parsnips into a large bowl and add the garlic, thyme, salt and pepper, and give it all a good toss to combine.
Brown the butter by warming it in a saucepan over high heat on the stove. Don’t walk away. When the butter begins to bubble and sizzle, start to whisk it on occasion, making sure to scrape the milk solids from the bottom. As soon as you start to notice the butter browning turn the heat to medium and whisk until the butter is golden with a nutty aroma. Pour the butter over the potatoes and parsnips and toss to coat well.
Mix the cheeses and flour together in a bowl and set it next to your cocottes or ramekins.
Layer the potatoes and parsnips into the cocottes, one layer at a time, in a fish scale pattern. Once you have one layer complete, sprinkle some of the cheese mixture over the vegetables, and then repeat with another layer. Fill the cocottes to the top and finish with a layer of cheese. Pour the half & half over the top of each cocotte, dividing it equally between all six. It should only come about half way up the dish, it will rise as it bubbles and bakes.
Carefully cover the whole baking sheet with tin foil, crimping the edges down tightly, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the filling is completely cooked. You can take the foil off for the last 10 minutes of baking if you like a golden crust on top. Allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with thyme sprigs if you’d like to and serve warm.
If you can’t find Yukon Gold potatoes, use russet potatoes – just peel them first.
You can sub Parmesan for the Pecorino, just make sure to add a little bit more salt when assembling as Pecorino is more salty that Parmesan.
You can make these in ramekins, oven proof bowls, or cocottes, whatever you have on hand.
If you want to make one large gratin, you will need to add anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes additional cooking time, based on the dish that you’re using. You can tell when it’s cooked through by inserting a knife into the center. It should slide in and out easily.
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