My mom has been hearing me talk about my plans for a gratin for almost a week now. The idea came up when a coworker who has gone gluten free due to health reasons graciously paid for my dinner one night, and I offered to repay with something delicious and gluten free. I got to thinking, of course.
…Who doesn’t like anything with cheese on it?
So I decided on a riff on scalloped potatoes, adding in butternut squash into the mix because I had both lying around and needing to be used. With plenty of cheese.
The other day on my way to grab ramen with my friend Janette, I stopped at The Milk Pail, a family owned business in Mountain View, CA and home of my greatest weakness: an abundance of amazing and reasonably-priced cheese. I hadn’t quite decided on which type of cheese I was going to use for said gratin. Needless to say I walked away with 5 different types, including: Wisconsin gruyere (almost holds up to the authentic stuff), English sharp cheddar, Wisconsin gouda, laughing cow light swiss, pecorino romano (for a separate dish), and a french soft ripened chevre (for general munching). I decided eventually on the gouda for the gratin, with a bit of the gruyere on top.
Gouda gruyere gratin. Oh Gee!
Anyway, so after gaining like 15 lbs in the past week from eating all the other cheese (kidding), I finally got around to making the gratin. The (pretty successful) recipe is below. I did try to make it a little lower-fat by using fat free milk and laughing cow wedges for some of the cheese sauce, but you could go Paula Deen style and use cream and all full-fat cheese if you want.
Butternut Squash and Potato Gratin with Caramelized Onions
- 1 medium butternut squash (peeled, seeds removed, cut into thin 1/4″ thick slices)
- 4 medium gold potatoes (skins on, cut into 1/4″ slices)
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 3 cups cold fat-free milk (2 c for sauce, 1 c for finishing)
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/2 red onion, minced
- 2 cups grated gouda cheese
- 4 laughing cow light swiss wedges (or substitute another soft cheese like brie if not calorie-conscious)
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- cayenne pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup grated gruyere cheese (or more gouda)
(Bake in a 9×9″ pan.)
1. If you haven’t already, prep your potatoes and squash. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Place them on a large plate as shown above. Dampen two large paper towels and cover the plate. Place in microwave and microwave on high for 10-15 minutes, or until slightly soft. (This cuts down on the baking time.)
3. If you haven’t prepped the cheese yet, do that while the squash/potatoes are microwaving. Also mince the onion and slice a tablespoon of butter.
4. Whisk the tablespoon of cornstarch into 2 cups of the cold milk.
5. If your potatoes/squash are done, you should probably take them out of the microwave to let them cool for a bit. Next, add 1 tbsp butter and the onion to a pot.
6. Stirring frequently, caramelize the onions in the butter on a medium high heat until nicely golden brown and translucent. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
6. Add the cornstarch/milk mixture to the caramelized onions. Stir well and bring it to slightly bubbling.
7. Add the cheese (gouda, laughing cow). Mix well, breaking up the laughing cow wedges. Keep mixing until gouda is melted. Make sure it stays just below a simmer, not bubbling in the pot too much.
8. Add the salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste. At this point, you may want to use a whisk to break up any chunks of the laughing cow cheese.
9. Turn off the heat to the pot and let the sauce cool and thicken for a minute or two. Then ladle a bit of the sauce into the baking pan, spreading it in a thin layer on the bottom.
10. Layer the thinly sliced potatoes and squash in the pan. I did a layer of potatoes, a layer of squash, then a layer of cheese sauce, then a layer of potatoes, then another layer of cheese sauce, but you can probably do it however you want. Just watch the amount of cheese sauce you have left, because there’s not much extra to spare.
11. The last layer should be cheese sauce, and then sprinkle the gruyere (or more gouda) over the top.
12. Bake in 350 F oven for 20-30 minutes. Then raise the heat and broil it for a couple of minutes, until the top is crispy golden brown cheesy goodness.
13. Let it cool 10 minutes before digging in, otherwise you might burn your face on the molten cheese. And everyone knows a burnt tongue is a major party pooper.
So after writing all this, I was thinking about how this isn’t only great as a main dish or side, it’d probably also be awesome as a contribution to a potluck brunch! Mmm..