Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Chard Sweet Potato Gratin

I like to pretend that root vegetables are just as healthy for me even when I slather them in cheese.

The only major change we made was the cheese. Deb calls for using gruyere cheese. I forgot to pick it up at the store, so we were stuck with what was in the fridge. Those choices were parmesan or smoked cheddar that I had picked up from our CSA. We went with the cheddar and it was a brilliant choice. The smokiness added a nice subtlety to the sweetness of the vegetables. We also cut this recipe in half since it feeds 12 and even if we included the dog and his massive appetite separately, we'd still only have four. CCO and I thought this would be lovely as a side at Thanksgiving dinner.

Eat Rating: This is what heaven tastes like.
Difficulty: Medium. It helps if you have a mandoline for slicing the sweet potatoes. Also a whisk for making the bechamel sauce.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

3 1/2 tbsp butter
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 large bunch of swiss chard, leaves cut off the stalks and roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled
1/2 tsp dried thyme
3/4 cup smoked cheddar, grated

Fill a medium-sized pot with water and add the sweet potatoes. Bring the water to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. You just want the potatoes parboiled a little.

After ten minutes, drain the potatoes and allow to cool until you can easily handle them. Using a mandoline, slice thinly, about 1/8 inch (Note: you can do this with a knife if you don't have a mandoline. Try to get the slices as thin as possible). Set aside.

In a medium saute pan, melt 1 tbsp of butter. Add the onions and saute until translucent. Add the chard and cook until the greens have reduced by half. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat the remaining butter (1 1/2 tbsp). Add the garlic and sautee about 1 minute until browned. Using a whisk, add in the flour, constantly stirring until you have a light brown paste. Gradually add the milk to the flour/butter paste about a 1/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly between additions. You want a thick, gravy-like sauce to develop. Once it's sufficiently thick, remove from heat.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Butter or grease a 8 x 8 square glass dish. Layer some 1/3 of your sweet potatoes on the bottom, then 1/2 of the chard on top. Spoon a few tablespoons of the bechamel sauce on top and sprinkle cheese. Repeat once more, topping with the last 1/3 of sweet potatoes. Top with any remaining bechamel sauce and cheese.

Bake for 1 hour until the cheese on top has browned and the liquid is bubbly. Remove from the oven, allow to cool slightly and serve immediately with crusty bread for soaking up the leftover sauce.

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