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Posts tagged ‘Bechamel’

Cabbage and Potato Gratin

I didn’t actually think this dish was going to be that good or even remotely blog-worthy. I didn’t take photos as I was making it (wish I had but I did capture the finished product) but then when I  ate three servings for dinner and enjoyed it just as much the next day and the next, I figured it should be noted publicly. It obviously made a large quantity, seeing that I was still eating it three days later and that that was a good thing. . . .It’s made with the most ordinary of ingredients and could be varied in umpteen ways.

Creamy Cabbage and Potato (and Pasta) Gratin

This dish came about because I had a huge wedge of green cabbage in the fridge that needed using. I had a handful of potatoes and I had some milk. So I cooked the potatoes in a big pot of boiling water. Then I tossed in a handful of little tubetti pasta to make it appealing to my four-year-old who will eat anything that has pasta in it. But the thrust of this dish is purely cabbage and potatoes and unless you have a similarly  habituated child (or adult in your household) I’d skip the pasta. Then, I tried to estimate when I should add the cabbage so that I could drain the whole pot of potatoes, pasta and cabbage at once and all at the appropriate stage of doneness. That was really the only trick of this dish. Some of my potatoes were beginning to fall apart when the cabbage and pasta were tender and when I drained the whole, pale contents of the pot I began to doubt the wisdom of this process.

The humble ingredients of this, now favorite, comfort food.

However, knowing that I was going to mix said contents with a quick Bechamel sauce I figured I still stood a chance. And I was going to add some grated cheese and top it with a few bread crumbs and then get it all bubbly and crisp in the oven. . .

A side-note about bechamel, or simple cream sauce:  It was one of the first things I mastered as a young cook when I was about  8 I think. All you do is melt some butter, whisk in an equal amount of flour and then after a few minutes add hot milk and a few seasonings and simmer that for a few minutes (or much longer if you’re feeling fancy). It seems like a bit of a throwback and I certainly don’t see recipes with it on any food blogs these days but I think it’s a lifesaver sometimes.

So, give it a try and let me know if it was worth it. And I do really hope you  make this whole dish, or some version of it.

Happy Cooking!

P.S. For those of you in the Portland (OR) region and for those of you interested in or already devoted CSA fans, I am working with 47th Ave. Farm on their Winter Share and will be providing comprehensive recipe packets with each share all season. So if you’ve thought about joining a CSA but were afraid you wouldn’t know what do with all the veggies, fear no more.

Creamy Cabbage and Potato Gratin

You could add lots of chopped parsley or oregano or basil or chives to the dish as you’re assembling it, before baking. You could use other vegetables. I imagine diced winter squash instead of the potatoes would be fabulous and very pretty. Sausage, bacon or any kind of leftover meat would be good. You can vary the cheeses, omit entirely, and so on and so forth!

For Bechamel:

4 Tablespoons butter

4 Tablespoons flour

generous 2 cups of whole milk (2% can work in a pinch)

salt

pepper

bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon chili flakes

1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard

pinch of ground nutmeg or cloves

fresh minced thyme, parsley, chives, etc. (optional)

Melt butter in a medium-sized saucepan over med/low heat. When melted, whisk in flour. Continue cooking the roux for 2 -3 min, whisking frequently. Meanwhile heat milk until it’s scalding. Whisk hot milk into roux and add several pinches of salt, grind in some pepper, add chili flakes (or omit if you’d like), add mustard and a bay leaf and a grating or two of nutmeg. Stir well and cook over med/low heat for about 10 minutes until thickened and bubbling.  Add some grated cheese (sharp cheddar, Gruyère, Emmentaler, etc. ) and fresh, chopped herbs if you’d like at this point.

For the gratin:

3-5 potatoes (depending on size) and cut into thumb-sized chunks

1/2 medium to large green cabbage (or a whole small one), cored and cut into 1-inch pieces

Handful or two of small pasta (optional)

Salt

Bread crumbs (optional)

Grated cheese (sharp cheddar, Gruyère, Emmentaler, . . .)

Put potatoes in a large pot with lots of water and two teaspoons of kosher salt. Bring to a boil. If you are using some kind of pasta you’ll want to add it to the potatoes just a few minutes after the water comes to a boil so the pasta can cook for 8 or so minutes (depending on the type you choose this will vary. The pasta can be quite all dente when you drain everything though since it will keep cooking in the oven.) When the potatoes (and pasta, if using) are almost tender add the cabbage to the pot. Cover and cook for another few minutes until the cabbage is tender. Drain.

Spread the vegetables in a large baking dish. Pour the béchamel over the top and mix in a bit. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and extra cheese (if you’d like) and bake  at 400 until bubbly and crisp on top (I broil it at the end for a few minutes).


I Stared Down the Fridge and I Won!

I picked up this phrase from a dear friend and tonight was my night and I did win! I rarely write two blog posts in one week but this one couldn’t wait. And believe it or not, it all starts with Swiss Chard stems.  I have used a lot of chard lately, the leafy part that is, which meant I had collected a good pile of stems in the fridge. They keep well and I just kept adding to the bag. So tonight, in need of dinner, what did I find in the fridge? Chard stems (and not much else)! I usually either dice them and add them to soups or sauces but have also made a gratin in the past, so that’s what I set out to do. It really needed to serve as the main dish tonight so here’s how it turned into something blogworthy.

I roughly chopped half an onion and the chard stems and sautéed those in olive oil for a few minutes. Then I added 1/2 cup of water and covered the pan and braised them for about 10 minutes until the stems were tender.

Then I made a quick bechamel, but for the first time ever used half milk and half veggie bouillon (yes, I know you’re probably tired of hearing about the stuff but it is transformative). Then I remembered that I had a bag of leftover, sliced baguette in the freezer. So out came that and I nearly killed my food processor but I processed those into uneven, biggish, bread crumbs. Then I toasted those with just a little olive oil over high heat to thaw and crisp up just a bit.

Then I added about 1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg to the bechamel and grated some sharp cheddar. Oh and I added the liquid left in the chard pan to the bechamel.

Then I put the chard stems in a casserole dish, covered them with bechamel, then bread crumbs, then cheese. In the oven at 400 for about 20 minutes until nice and bubbly, finish under the broiler and voila! Dinner! It was so much more than the sum of its parts. It was delicious–savory, creamy, crunchy, earthy! We did have an arugula salad (thanks Elizabeth – my super gardener friend/neighbor) too.

Oh and since I’m not writing the recipe out in a formal manner, the bechamel was made as follows: Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan, add 4 tablespoons of flour, whisk and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of veggie  bouillon, first heated up together in a separate  saucepan or microwave. Whisk in the hot liquid and cook over medium heat until thickened, about 7-10 minutes. Add nutmeg.

Buon Appetito!