Gratin is a French casserole type French side Dish which is covered with Bechamel sauce and topped with buttered Breadcrumbs or grated cheese and baked or broiled and has a golden crust.The word literally means crust.I have wanted to cook a gratin before and found a wonderful recipe here at Food Network.Bechamel or white sauce is base for all other sauces in French Cuisine and is prepared by adding hot milk to the flour -melted butter mix.Once you make this sauce,rest is very easy.You can use any other vegetable or combo of veggies or even leftovers to make a gratin dish.I used cauliflower and few pieces of fennel stems to make this gratin.
Cauliflower: 1 small head of cauliflower
Anise/Fennel stem (optional):few cut pieces
All Purpose Flour: 1-2 tbsp
Unsalted Butter: 2 tbsp
Hot Milk: 1 cup +
Parmesan Cheese: 1/4 cup+/- as per choice
Gruyere cheese: 1/4 cup+/- as per choice
Spices:as per taste
Red Chilli Flakes (optional)
Gruyere or any Swiss Cheese : 1/2 cup+/-
Butter: Unsalted & Melted : 2 tbsp
Chop cauliflower into bitesized pieces and parboil in salted water.Drain and Keep aside.I had a big fennel/anise stem of which I added few cut pieces, just to see what happens.I added these as such,but if using potatoes or similar veggies,it is better to parboil chopped pieces of these along with cauliflower.
In a small sauce pan,melt butter.Keep the heat to medium-low while doing this.As soon as it is melted,add flour to it and keep on stirring with a fork/whisk/wooden spoon till it blends.Then add hot milk and continute whisking till it reaches a boil.Boil this milk stirring/whisking continuously for 1 minute or so until it thickens into a creamy sauce.Take off the heat.
Add the spices and salt to the sauce and whisk well.Add freshly grated parmesan cheese and gruyere cheese and whisk well.I used swiss cheese blend.Check for salt and adjust as per taste.You can add as much spices as per taste,though the riginal recipe has only nutmeg and pepper.I am a spicy person and so added my "secret ingredient" of red chilli flakes.
Spread 1/3 of the sauce into a baking dish,top this with cauliflower and other veggies if using.It looks like..
Prepare the crust by mixing fresh dry breadcrumbs and gruyere/swiss cheese. Spread the crust mix evenly over the sauce-cauliflower layers.Top this with melted unsalted butter and then sprinkle salt and pepper.I thought the dish had already too much butter and so avoided the spreading with melted butter.I simply added little salt and pepper over the breadcrumbs.
It looks like....
I must add that mine did not look browned at all.May be due to my cranky oven or may be bcoz I avoided the melted butter or I do not know.I tried an additional 15 minutes ,but still it did not look that brown.But the taste was excellent,that I can assure you.I even wrapped it in a roti and enjoyed it.
On a Joyous Note:I have been showered with awards from fellow bloggers past month.I am very honoured to accept these wonderful gifts from wonderful and esteemed blogger friends and will be displaying them on the blog as soon as possible.I would like to acknowledge the latest heartfelt awards through this post:
The lovely trophy for Recipe Marathon from DK of CulinaryBazaar
And the Best Blogger Friends Award from Hema of AdlaksTiny World where she is celebrating the completion of 100 posts in her blog.