Here are two fabulous side dishes to consider for the holidays (and throughout the winter). I love the roasted vegetables—easy, delicious, nutritious. And the beets, with their color and sweetness, are the linchpin of this dish, so don't omit. My editor made these and said, "I can't believe my kids ate beets! And loved them." This recipe appears in my book How to Roast, FYI.
The gratin is great for three, reasons. They're so good, for one. I made the below dish when I was working with Le Creuset (great gift idea, that dish, btw). My daughter actually got mad at me and said, why don't you make those cheesy potatoes for us? So I did. Reason two: golden brown crispiness combined with gooey cheesy goodness. Reason number three: These can be made three or four days ahead of time, covered, and refrigerated.
That's what I did when I worked as a line cook at Sans Souci in Cleveland. Make them, chill them, then I'd cut pucks out of the pan with a ring mold for a fancy pants presentation. But they're great just reheated in the same pan (reheat at 350°, covered with foil, until hot—stick a paring knife into them, then feel the paring knife—then uncover and bake or broil to make sure the browned top is crisp.
Happy cooking, all! Have you made your turkey stock yet? Never to early!
Roasted Root Vegetables
- ¼ pound/110 grams bacon lardons or thick-cut bacon, cut into ¼-inch/6-millimeter strips
- 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
- 3 small red beets, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 celery root, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
- 2 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 Spanish onion, cut into large dice
- 5 to 10 garlic cloves, halved
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 425˚F/220˚C (or 450˚F/230˚C if your oven is clean, and use convection at either temperature if you have it).
- Cook the bacon over medium heat on the stovetop until the fat has rendered and the bacon is tender but not crisp, about 15 minutes (this can be done in a skillet or directly in the roasting pan you will use for the vegetables).
- Combine the bacon and rendered fat with the parsnips, beets, celery root, potatoes, and carrots in a roasting pan, stirring well to coat the vegetables in fat. Roast for 20 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, and 2 or 3 generous pinches of salt to the pan and stir to distribute the onion and garlic. Continue to cook until the vegetables are browned and tender, another 40 minutes or so (feel free to give them another stir midway through this final cooking).
- Remove the pan from the oven and give the vegetables a generous grinding of black pepper. Sprinkle the vinegar over the top, followed by the olive oil. Toss, and then serve immediately.
- 4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 cups half-and-half
- Salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
- 3 cups grated Gruyère cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/177°C.
- With a mandoline, cut the potatoes into ⅛-inch slices, or slice thinly with a knife. They can be cut ahead of time and held submerged in cold water for up to a day.
- Place the cast-iron gratin dish over medium heat. Add the butter and shallot, and cook until the shallot is translucent.
- Layer half the potatoes in the dish. Pour 1 cup of the half-and-half over the potatoes. Season generously with salt and pepper, and judiciously with nutmeg—3 or 4 gratings should do.
- Cover the potatoes with half of the cheese. Repeat the layers with the remaining ingredients. Cover the dish with foil and bake until the potatoes are tender, 45 to 60 minutes. This step can be done up to 3 days before serving.
- To finish the potatoes, remove the foil, turn up the heat to 415°F/213°C, and continue cooking until the top is golden brown, or put them under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.
If you liked this post on Roasted Vegetables and Potato Gratin, check out these other posts:
- My recent holiday post on Butternut Squash Soup, Aged Eggnog, and Your Local Butcher.
- Need more Thanksgiving side dish ideas? Visit Martha Stewart.
- If you have vegetarian friends coming over for the holidays, learn to make a "veggieducken" from Epicurious.
- There are many potatoes options out there—which ones do you use?
© 2015 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2015 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.