Butternut Squash and Potato Gratin

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This is one of my most favorite dishes to serve at Thanksgiving.  Right now, my husband’s family is probably saying, “Really?  We’ve never had it!”  Well, it’s a bit of work.  Well worth it, though.  The first time I made it was probably when it was first published in Fine Cooking.  I made it for a family Thanksgiving dinner with my sister’s fiance to welcome him into the family- a little meet and greet.  My sister advised me that he doesn’t eat a lot of vegetables; he’s a meat and potatoes kind of guy.  Hmmm.  Well, I found this recipe, made it, and it was so delicious.   I don’t know who was more surprised at how good it was, me or my future brother-in-law-who-still-today-doesn’t-eat-vegetables, or my husband, who’d rather eat potatoes in any form, himself.

The addition of butternut squash almost seems like a sneaky trick, but really it’s not.  It’s the combination of two fall-ready vegetables (or fall-preserved vegetables, if stored properly), some cheese, heavy cream, salt and pepper.   And that’s it, in a nutshell.  Six ingredients, one amazing dish that surprised everyone.

This is a Fine Cooking recipe, which can still be found on their website.  It only has four reviews, but obviously has many more hits to keep it in circulation.  I haven’t made it with the walnuts in deference to those with selective tastes, and, almost think it might be overkill with it.

  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 2 to 3 pounsa Yukon gold potatoes
  • approximately 1 cup heavy cream
  • approximately 1/2 cup parmesan or romano cheese
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 heavy pyrex or ceramic baking dish (no foil or aluminum pans here)

For 15 to 20:

  • 1 medium/large butternut squash, sliced in 1/4 inch slices
  • 6 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, sliced in 1/4 inch slices
  • approximately 2 cups heavy cream
  • 8 ounces parmesan or romano cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 heavy pyrex or ceramic baking dish (no foil or aluminum pans here)

The hardest part of this dish is the peeling and fine slicing of the raw butternut squash.  For any other dish, I usually bake the squash in advance, and remove the baked flesh from the skin.  Here, that is not an option as the goal is to layer the butternut squash and yukon gold potatoes to make a complex, layered scalloped potatoes dish.

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With every layer, sprinkle a little bit of cheese, salt & pepper (lightly, as you are doing this to every layer), and a smidgen of heavy cream on each layer.  Once all the layers are done, an extra dose of cream can be added to the top.

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This dish is only suitable to heavy baking dishes to the long time required to bake this.  If you use a cheap metal aluminum or foil baking dish, the cream and cheese will turn to oil before the squash and potatoes are completely cooked through, resulting in a greasy, crunchy dish.  An inexpensive pyrex is a good bet for this dish, 8×8 or 9×13 depending on how many people you are serving.  The also recommend sealing this with aluminum foil and placing on a baking sheet  in case the cream bubbles over and escapes.

When all the layers are complete (I usually get about 6 layers, 3 of each), cover with a little more cheese. Cover tightly in aluminum foil.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  I just got a new convection oven, and had to cook it at 325 degrees for 1 hour.  It later got reheated in a 325 degree (gas) oven for about 45 minutes.  It usually takes about 1 hour 15 minutes to thoroughly bake through.

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