Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thanksgiving Fanciness

This dish is an unexpectedly fancy side dish for any Thanksgiving meal. Be prepared to be met with oohs and aahs and a lot of what is its? I love to try recipes that use new-to-me ingredients so when I stumbled across this one a few years ago the celery root (or celeriac) piqued my interest. I had a tough time finding it at first but it's more readily available these days. I've seen it in a few grocery stores but always have more luck finding it in produce-heavy farmer's market style grocery stores. It's not pretty by any means but it has a wonderful flavor. If you like the flavor of celery seed or celery salt in dishes, you'll love this.

Celery Root and Squash Gratin with Walnut-Thyme Streusel

source: Celery Root and Squash Gratin with Walnut-Thyme Streusel
photo courtesy of chow.com because I was too excited
to eat this dish after it came out of the oven and forgot
to take a photo of the final dish! 

Ingredients

For the streusel:

  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs (can be omitted and replaced with more nuts for paleo)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick) or ghee (clarified butter), melted
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (or nut of your preference)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


For the gratin:

  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream (coconut milk can be used for paleo)
  • 1 medium butternut squash (about 3 pounds), peeled, cut in half, and seeded
  • 1 medium celery root (celeriac) (about 1 pound), peeled and cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick) or ghee (clarified butter), plus more for coating the baking dish
  • 1/2 medium white onion, thinly sliced
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Tips

For the butternut squash:

If you've ever tried to cut through a raw butternut squash you know it's nearly impossible. In the past, I've resorted to brut force and a large meat cleaver to do the job but I've recently learned a tip that will save my fingers and any innocent bystanders. Use a metal skewer or thin, sharp knife to poke holes in the whole squash and cook it in the microwave for a minute or two and it will soften enough to cut through easily.

I prefer a y peeler for peeling larger surface areas.

Preparation

For the streusel:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix until the butter is incorporated. Cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

For the gratin:

  1. Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with butter and set aside.
  2. Pour the cream into a large bowl and set aside. Slice the squash and celery root into 1/4-inch-thick pieces with a mandoline or sharp knife, placing the pieces in the cream as they are cut. Toss until well coated.




  3. Melt the butter in a medium frying pan over medium heat. When it foams, add the onion and season well with salt and pepper. Sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes; set aside.
  4. Construct the gratin by ladling a third of the squash–celery root mixture into the prepared baking dish, then seasoning well with salt and pepper. Top with half of the onions, then another layer of squash and celery root. Season the second layer with salt and pepper and cover with the remaining onions. Place the last of the squash and celery root on top and press down to create an even surface. Season with salt and pepper, then pour the remaining cream over top.
  5. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the gratin. Bake until the vegetables are soft and the streusel is golden brown, about 40 to 50 minutes. Let sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes before serving.