Sunday, January 6, 2013

Swiss Chard & Sweet Potato Gratin

Here is the recipe for the gratin that I made for the potluck.  It's perfect for the cold winter nights. It's hearty, it's cheesy, it's good.

 I have experimented a couple of times with the recipe and I think I've got it down. My niece and I made this for Thanksgiving and everyone turned their nose up at the idea of sweet potatoes mingling in with the cheese. The suggestion alone seemed blasphemous as we normally make a kick ass sweet potato recipe every year. But lo and behold the pan quickly emptied itself into hungry mouths and there were plenty of "mmm's" to go around.

I haven't mastered the art of food photography (read: AT ALL) so you will just have to imagine how amazing this dish is. It's fab. Promsies.


3 bunches of swiss chard - chopped into 1 inch portions, stem chopped separately
4 sweet potatoes - peeled, sliced into thin rounds
2 large potatoes  - peeled, sliced into thin rounds
1 finely chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon of chopped thyme
1 tablespoon of chopped Italian Parsley
Salt & Pepper
8 ounces of Gruyere Cheese - shredded
1/2 stick of butter (about 1/4 cup)
Pinch of fresh nutmeg
2 cups of heavy cream
2 tablespoons of flour

**Things to note: You can substitute the swiss chard for spinach leaves in a pinch. You can also swap out the potatoes for other root vegetables like butternut squash and turnips if you'd like. Also, make sure to clean off the veggies very well before adding them to the casserole dish.

Prep Work

I would start off with slicing the potatoes first so that you can soak them in water for a few to soften them up just a bit. Get everything chopped and diced and sitting pretty on your counter top.

The Chard

 In a medium saucepan melt the 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat (medium is the word of the day) and cook down the onions. Add the chard stems, the pinch of nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Cook down until just tender then turn the heat up to medium-high. Start adding in a handful of leaves at a time. Cook until wilted. Be sure to keep an eye out because it only takes a few minutes to cook down. You don't want to overcook the chard.
Take off the heat immediately and put the chard in a colander to drain out the water while you work on the bechamel sauce. Use a wooden spoon to press out as much water as possible.

The Sauce

In a small saucepan warm the heavy cream with garlic. Keep the milk warm. Melt the remaining butter on medium heat in a separate saucepan and slowly mix in the flour. Whisk the flour for about a minute to create a roux. Slowly add in the warm milk/garlic and continue whisking for another minute. You don't have to whisk fast, a nice slow whisk is cool as long as it doesn't stick  to the pan.

The Layers

Preheat the oven at 400°F. Begin to layer the potatoes in a buttered, deep baking dish. Put one layer of a combination of sweet & white potatoes, sprinkle with herbs, and 1/4 c of cheese. Add in half of the drained chard to the top. Build two layers before spreading an even layer of half of the bechamel sauce. Build another two layers and pour the remaining sauce on the top. Sprinkle with the last bit of cheese.

Bake for one hour until golden and bubbly. Let the dish cool for a few before serving. You will do a happy food dance after your first bite.