Comforting Layers


I think Mother Nature missed the memo. I mean, according to the calendar, Spring has sprung. The flowers know it – the trees, too. I just don’t get why it’s still so darned COLD outside. She’s a stubborn old broad, that Mother Nature.


The persistent chill in the air has made it a bit difficult for me to move beyond hearty wintertime dishes when planning meals for the week, so I come to you today with another gratin. I suppose I could use the excuse that, since we now have a wonderful source of delicious local cream at our farmers’ market, I was duty-bound to show them some love, but honestly? My belly demanded creamy, crusty comfort.

Though the cream is really, really good.

adding the topping

As with most gratins, this was a breeze to throw together: I made a few layers of thinly sliced fennel and a few small red-skinned potatoes (also thinly sliced) in a buttered baking dish, seasoned them with salt, and bathed them in some of that luscious cream. I had whisked a good amount of sharp dijon into the cream before pouring it over the vegetables – a quarter cup or so – which added a nice tang.

I wrapped the dish tightly with foil and baked it in a 400 degree oven for just about half an hour, then removed the foil, grated on some Parmigiano Reggiano, and added some fresh soft breadcrumbs to the top. I dotted on a little butter before returning it to the oven for a final bake – another 15 minutes or so.

Dinner:  April 7, 2009

We ate this with delicious pork chops from Stoney Hill Cattle, but I think it would be great on its own, too.

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