My Recipe Box

Butternut Squash, Apple, Leek & Potato Gratin with a Cheddar Crust

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Serves eight as a side dish.

Equally at home with the Thanksgiving turkey or sautéed pork chops, this sweet butternut-apple gratin can take a spicy turn if you slip in a bit of sliced turnip.

For the topping:
  • 1-1/2 cups coarse fresh breadcrumbs (from an airy, crusty loaf like ciabatta)
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 oz. (3/4 cup) grated sharp Cheddar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
For the gratin:
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, plus 1/2 tsp. for the dish
  • 2 cups sliced leeks (white and light green parts of 3 medium leeks), thoroughly washed
  • Kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup plus 3 Tbs. apple cider
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 Tbs. heavy cream
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 crisp, firm apples, such as Golden Delicious or Braeburn (about 14 oz. total), peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 12 oz. butternut squash (neck portion only) 
  • 2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (12 oz. total)
Make the topping:

Combine the crumbs, melted butter, and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Mix in the Cheddar and thyme.

Prepare the gratin:

Heat the oven to 350°F. Rub a shallow 2-quart gratin dish with 1/2 tsp. of the butter.

Melt the 2 Tbs. butter in a small (preferably nonstick) saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and a big pinch of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until well softened and lightly browned (the pan will be dry), 10 to 15 minutes. Add 2/3 cup of the cider and simmer for 2 minutes to reduce it slightly. Add 1/2 cup of the cream, the chopped thyme, a pinch of salt, a few grinds of pepper, and stir well; set aside.

Cook the apples: In a large nonstick skillet, melt the remaining 2 Tbs. butter over medium heat. Turn the heat to medium high, add the apple slices, and cook, gently flipping and stirring, until most of the slices are browned and limp but not falling apart, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining 3 Tbs. cream and 3 Tbs. cider. Stir and let the liquids reduce slightly for a few seconds; remove from the heat.

Assemble and bake the gratin:

Peel the squash neck, cut it into quarters lengthwise, and cut them across into thin slices. Peel the potatoes, cut them in half, and cut them across into thin slices. In a large bowl, combine the squash slices, the potato slices, the leek mixture, the apple mixture (scrape the pans well), and a scant 2 tsp. salt. Using a rubber spatula, mix gently but thoroughly. Scrape the mixture into the prepared gratin dish, smoothing and pressing until evenly distributee. Cover with the breadcrumb topping.

Bake until the crust is deep golden brown, the juices around the edges have subsided, and the crust is dark brown around the edges, about 1 hour. Let rest for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on eight servings; Calories (kcal): 330; Fat (g): 20; Fat Calories (kcal): 180; Saturated Fat (g): 12; Protein (g): 6; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 6; Carbohydrates (g): 30; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1; Sodium (mg): 660; Cholesterol (mg): 60; Fiber (g): 4;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Wonderful. Family said it was a keeper. I added a grate of nutmeg to the cream for an earthy warmth. Next time I will pre-roast my squash then then slice and add it also I did not reduce the sauce so it was moist but not runny. Use a mandolin if you have one, or slice really thin slices. My thicker slices of squash were slightly undercooked. Changing the cheese will allow you make it many times over as a main or a side dish and not get flavor bored.

I too found this recipe to be quite flavorful but a little dry. I always make the recipe (the first time) just as it is written. I think in the future I will double both quantities of cream and apple cider to get the proper moisture and better cook the vegetables near the top of the gratin.

I made this last year and it was just okay on the thanksgiving table, not very flavorful ....but, the next day and the day after I couldn't get enough of the leftovers, even cold. I may try it again this year but make it the day before so the flavors can meld. Then it might garner a 5th star. The leftovers were delicious!

I thought this recipe was delicious, BUT, I think it needs more liquid, either cider or cream or both. Not enough of the potato-squash mixture was covered by the liquid, leaving the potatoes on the top uncooked, even after 1 hour. Before placing the topping on and baking, I would suggest simply adding more liquid so most (not all) of the mixture is submerged.

VERY time-consuming, but delicious (and I don't even like butternut squash)!! That said, it was a bit dry with the given amount of liquid, so I add a little more. Maybe I'm making it too thick in the dish, but the middle didn't seem to cook through in a large pan. Individual dishes work much better and (bonus) look elegant at the table! All in all, I LOVE this recipe and look forward to fall so I can make it!

This recipe has become one of my staples for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner.....it takes time to put it together but is well worth the effort....it gets rave reviews from family and friends.

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