Imagine a dish where the comfort of creamy potatoes meets the sweetness of butternut squash, all crowned with a golden, crispy topping. This is the essence of Gordon Ramsay's Potato and Butternut Squash Gratin with Crispy Shallots. A recipe that not only tantalizes your taste buds but also introduces you to the delightful world of gratins.
What Is a Gratin?
Before diving into the specifics of this exquisite dish, let's take a moment to understand what a gratin really is. Originating from the French culinary tradition, a gratin is any dish that is baked or broiled in a shallow dish to achieve a deliciously browned crust. The name 'gratin' is derived from the French verb 'gratiner,' meaning to broil.
Potato gratin, perhaps the most renowned variant, is a symphony of layered sliced potatoes topped with cheese and/or buttered breadcrumbs. When broiled, it results in a dish where the potatoes are soft and creamy, the cheese is gooey, and the breadcrumbs add a satisfying crunch.
Ramsay's Unique Twist
In Gordon Ramsay's version, the classic potato gratin is elevated with the inclusion of butternut squash. This addition brings a touch of sweetness and vibrant color and adds a nutritional punch.
Instead of the traditional breadcrumbs, Ramsay uses crispy shallots to form the crust, lending a unique texture and a slight onion-like flavor that complements the other ingredients wonderfully.
To prepare this gratin, you will need:
- 1 1/2 pounds of butternut squash, specifically the neck portion. Ideally, less than 3 inches in diameter
- 1 1/2 pounds of large waxy potatoes, such as red potatoes, approximately three medium-sized ones
- 2 cups of whole milk
- 2 cups of heavy cream
- 4 large garlic cloves, smashed
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 ounces of Gruyere cheese, finely grated
- 1 tablespoon of kosher salt
However, the star of this dish, Gruyere cheese, is known for its creamy and nutty flavor. It plays a pivotal role in tying all the elements together.
The process of making this gratin involves several steps, each crucial to achieving the perfect balance of flavors and textures:
Start by slicing the butternut squash and potatoes into thin, even pieces. This ensures uniform cooking and a harmonious blend of flavors in every bite.
The milk and cream are gently heated with garlic, thyme, and bay leaves. This step infuses the dairy with an aromatic depth, forming the creamy base in which the vegetables will cook.
However, the infused milk and cream mixture is then poured over the layered vegetables. This will allow them to soak up the flavors.
Now, sprinkle the finely grated Gruyere cheese over the top, followed by the crispy shallots. This creates the signature gratin crust that is both flavorful and visually appealing.
The dish is baked until the vegetables are tender and the top is golden and bubbly. And the result? Well, a dish with a creamy interior and a crisp, flavorful crust.
The Magic of Gratin
Ramsay's Potato and Butternut Squash Gratin is more than just a side dish. It is a celebration of textures and flavors. These creamy potatoes, the slightly sweet squash, the nutty cheese, and the crispy shallots come together to create a dish that is as comforting as it is sophisticated.