Salsify Potato Cheese Gratin
Gratin of salsify is a very common French winter dish. For my version, I added steamed fingerling potatoes and diced Granny Smith apples to make the flavors more interesting. The acidity of the apples and the starchiness of the potatoes give the salsify a great balance both in texture and taste. As you would any other gratin, the dish is covered them with béchamel sauce made with cheddar for a rich color. The crust is topped with Dubliner cheese.
If you've never tried Dubliner cheese, you should. We've all become addicted to it. Its flavor is very similar to an aged gruyère, but with fruitier notes and a sharper bite. It's become one of my "go-to" cheeses for cooking. It takes this classic French version of comfort food to another level.
Yields: 6 servings1 (8.81-ounce) can salsify, drained
6 fingerling potatoes
1 Granny Smith apple
juice of a lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 teaspoon thyme, finely chopped
1 teaspoon marjoram, finely chopped
5 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons curly parsley, finely chopped
1-½ tablespoons flour
1 cup milk, warm
2 teaspoons honey Dijon mustard (optional)
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon white pepper, freshly ground
1/4 cup aged yellow cheddar, diced
1/3 cup Dubliner cheese, shaved
Prepping the salsify: Blanch the vegetables for about 30 seconds in boiling water, drain and pat dry on a paper towel.
For the steamed potatoes: Fill a pot with cold water until it barely touches the steamer level. Place the potatoes in the steamer, bring to a boil, sprinkle with salt, then reduce the heat to medium-high. Steam for about 9-10 minutes. The potatoes should be fork-tender but not mushy. Remove from the steamer. Let them cool completely. Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle and have dried (with no excess water), peel and cut them into the same shapes as the salsify.
Caramelizing the shallots: Heat the olive oil in a deep pan. Sauté the shallots in the oil over low heat for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the shallot from burning, until the color is evenly golden brown and the shallots are tender. Season with salt. Transfer to a plate.
Prepping the apple: Peel, core and cut the apple into the same shapes as the salsify. Drizzle with lemon juice to prevent them from browning. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Prepping the filling: In the same pan, melt a tablespoon of butter. Add the potatoes and toss them until slightly browned. Add the apples and salsify. Cook for about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add a tablespoon of curly parsley and the shallots. Set aside.
In the deep pan, melt the rest of the butter over medium-low; you don't want the butter to burn. Add thyme and marjoram. Cook for about 2 minutes until fragrant. Bring the heat back up to medium-high (the butter should be hot and golden) and add the flour. Keep stirring with a wooden spoon for approximately 2 minutes. The flour should absorb the butter instantly and form a paste. Add the warm milk in 3 stages. Increase the heat while constantly stirring for about 4-5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low. Add cheddar and a tablespoon of Dubliner. Season with salt, nutmeg, mustard (if used) and pepper. Cook for another minute. Stir well. Let the sauce rest until it's time to assemble the dish.
Brush 6 oven-proof individual serving dishes with olive oil. Add the apple, potato and salsify mixture. Spread ladles of the béchamel sauce to cover the vegetables. Finish with a layer of Dubliner cheese.
Bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 400°F and broil for about 2-3 minutes to get a nice golden top. Remove from the oven and let rest for at least 15 minutes. Serve warm. Garnish with the rest of the parsley.
Serve with a white meat. Garnish with parsley.
If you want to prepare the dish in advance, place the vegetables in the small dishes but only add the sauce and cheese right before placing in the oven. Bake the gratin dish 30 minutes before you're ready to serve.
You can substitute canned white asparagus for salsify. You could also use any other winter vegetables such as rutabagas, parsnip, turnip, leek or kale but you'll have to cook them until tender.
I buy salsify at my local store, Crossroads World Market -720 San Antonio Rd -Palo Alto, CA 94303. I love this place. It's a sweet little store. Crossroads Market carries a wide range of European products, but you can also order through Amazon.
I used cheddar for a nice yellow hue for the sauce.
I bought Dubliner cheese at Costco. The whole family is crazy about this cheese. It has a nutty flavor with a mild fruitiness. If you don't find it, you can replace it with another aged cheese such as Parmesan.
To get a smooth béchamel sauce, I always use all the ingredients at the same temperature, so make sure you warm the milk in the microwave (or in a pan). If you get lumpy pieces in the sauce, don't hesitate to use a handheld blender.
The thyme and marjoram are not essential to this dish; I just like adding them to flavor the butter.
If you have béchamel sauce left-over, don't discard it. Just store it for later and use it as a sauce for a croque-monsieur sandwich (ham and cheese sandwich).Published By: on February 4, 2010.