One of my favorite things about this time of year is all the wonderful root vegetables that are available, and I think the best way to utilize them is to make a gratin. You can make a gratin with just about anything, but today’s awesomely cheesy preparation includes celeriac (a.k.a. celery root), some yukon gold potatoes, leeks, and gruyere. Assembly is very simple and if you have a nifty Japanese mandolin, the dish practically makes itself.
A note on quantities: I’ve found that one medium celery root, two potatoes, and two leeks filled an eight inch round casserole that was about 4 inches high, but this recipe can easily be adjusted to fit whatever size or shape dish you have.
First, peel the potatoes and celeriac and cut them into very thin slices (imagine a thick potato chip) and cut the leeks into similarly thin rings. Wash the leeks in a bowl of water to remove the grit. Then, butter up a casserole or, if you have one, an au gratin dish and begin layering. Just make a thin layer of each vegetable and sprinkle with salt and pepper; you can put some parmesan if you like, I did … of course. Then repeat until you’ve used up all your ingredients. Last, pour about a cup of cream over the top and plenty of grated gruyere. I had some homemade breadcrumbs lying around, so I through those on too, but that’s optional. Bake with the lid on at 375 until the vegetables are tender (I stick a fork in and if there’s no resistance, it’s done). Broil to get the top brown and serve after it’s had a chance to cool for a few minutes.
Conclusions: What’s not to love? This is a rich, satisfying dish, perfect for these rainy San Francisco days we’ve been having. Also, the nerd in me loves how evenly the vegetables cook because they’re sliced to the same thickness; the mandolin makes this impressive dish so easy to throw together. Go get one and make this dish! You won’t regret it!
P.S. I haven’t specified what all this mandolin business is about. I know that there are these products out there that cost $50-150 and look completely impractical, but Japanese mandolins are much simpler and more cost effective. Specifically, the Benriner brand is great and the best price you can get is from Jon at Japanese Knife Imports. They’re only $20 there (compared to at least $30 from other stores) and he sells the replacement blades. I take knives and such very seriously and I can tell you, these things are sharp. Enjoy!