Every Christmas there’s always a winning dish, it’s usually something unassuming that didn’t seem like it would take centre stage. Last year it was the super easy red wine braised lentils that blew everyone away and this year I’m happy to say it was once again a vegetable dish that trumped the meat fest.
This hearty and healthy root vegetable gratin is almost as easy and tastes absolutely amazing. On Boxing day we did a meal for my family and my boyfriend’s family, 10 people, NBD right? I served it with an Earl Grey ham and the flavours went together perfectly, but I’ve since had it with chicken, with green veg and on its own and it works just as well. Oh and check the bonus pic of my CHRISTMAS TABLE, I went on about this so much I thought someone was going to kill me.
It’s basically a combo of celeriac, sweet potato and beetroot, but you can substitute parsnip, carrots and other root veg if you fancy. I wouldn’t compromise on fresh beetroot though as it gives it that addictive flavour. It’s much quicker if you can put it all through a food processor to get those paper thin slices, but even hand slicing it’s then just a case of chucking it in the oven. Cream and parmesan help meld all those flavours together but you could easily go dairy free if you’ve started a New Year health kick – I’m still waiting for mine. I got given some awesome chillis for Christmas, so I added some chipotle to the mix to give it a bit of smokiness and spice.
Ingredients: (serves 8 as a side dish, 4-6 as a main)
about 6 sweet potatoes
bunch of fresh beetroot
veg or chicken stock
chipotle chilli, thyme
Crank dat oven Soulja Boy, you want it preheated to 250C. Boil up about half a pint of water, adding chicken or veg stock and about 2-300mls of cream, then add in all the spices and seasoning and simmer gently. Slice all the vegetables as thin as you can, or use your thinnest setting on a mandolin or food processor. Layer the veg up in an oven proof dish and add some of the cream-stock as you go. You want an even distribution of flavour, but the mushier veg like sweet potato will cook faster than say, a celeriac. Place it at the top of the oven, with foil or a baking sheet over the top and let bubble for about 40 mins. Test the veg by sticking a knife in, when it’s tender remove the cover, grate some parmesan if using and you can also add panko breadcrumbs for some extra crunch. Oven that dish for another 15 mins or so – really, you can just wing it with the timings – until the top is all crispy and the bubbling liquid has dried a bit. I like this gratin like I like my drunkeness – sloppy – but if you fancy a texture more like a dauphinois just reduce the cream-stock by just under half.
Isabelle O'Carroll: I’m a writer, content designer and consultant with 11+ years’ experience across fashion, food and drink and the arts.