Fennel and Shallot Gratin
You see it at the market. A particular fresh vegetable stacked up along the slanted chilling tray, its bright color grabs out at you, it looks, well, it looks wow. So you purchase extra with a set menu purpose in mind.
And then, well then, perhaps you get busy, plans change, or you even use up one of the other key ingredients of the originally planned dish. Time flies, and before you know it you begin scrambling on an easy preparation to use up this beautiful vegetable that grabbed out at you before it loses it’s, well, before it loses its wow. Has this scenario ever looked familiar to you?
Let’s share together one simple word easy enough to solve the dilemma of quickly using up beautiful fresh vegetables while still in the wow state should plans change altering your initial purchase scenario, the key word, Gratin. And today we begin with a lovely, cheesy, crunchy, Fennel and Shallot Gratin.
Yesiree. Gratin. Now gratin is not only about potatoes though what is not to love about lovely, cheesy, crunchy, creamy potatoes. Au Gratin. A gratin is a culinary technique whereby the main ingredient is topped with cheese and seasoned breadcrumbs. There is also a designated oval ‘gratin dish’ though fortunately one is not required to use this style of bake-ware for the dish to be considered a gratin.
Now if you scroll up a bit, you will see breadcrumbs in the food processor. Really, homemade bread crumbs have such a great flavor and you can easily prepare these by being sure you slice up your whole baguettes or crusty breads all at once whenever serving them at your home, simply let any leftover slices get stale, once accomplished, just store them in a container for future use. Abundant bread crumbs readied for topping off any particular fresh vegetable whose bright color might have grabbed out at you at the market looking really wow. With a gratin you can always be sure of a great dish, even if you had an alternative menu in mind like a Fennel and Shallot Gratin.
Fennel and Shallot Gratin
- 3 bulbs fennel, sliced 1/8 to 1/4 inch slices
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, removed from thin branches
- 2 tablespoons butter, plus a thin slice each for greasing gratin dish, and toasting bread crumbs
- 3/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese, approximately
- 1/8 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2- 3/4 cup homemade seasoned bread crumbs
- 1/8 cup half and half or heavy cream
- a few pinches kosher salt
- a few grindings of fresh cracked pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Butter the bottom and sides of a gratin or baking dish
- Melt a thin slice of butter in a small saute pan, add in the bread crumbs, stir well throughout and cook on low two to three minutes, shaking pan in between, until lightly golden, turn off heat, season with a pinch of salt and pepper, set aside
- Melt two tablespoons butter in a large saute pan on very low heat, add fennel and shallots, stir, cook two minutes before sprinkling in fresh thyme and a couple of pinches of salt and pepper, continue cooking mixture until fennel is softened approximately five to eight minutes, turn off heat
- Spoon cooked vegetables into buttered gratin dish, lightly mix through and top with the grated Gruyere and Parmesan Cheeses
- Pour over the half and half or cream all around
- Scatter over the buttered breadcrumbs
- Bake around thirty five minutes until cheese is bubbling
- Switch oven temperature to broiler, broil a couple of minutes or so turning dish once for even golden browning