Au Gratin is a French Style of cooking where casseroles are topped with bread crumbs & butter, & are allowed to brown under a broiler to give a crunch. Sometimes cheese is sprinkled which melts & gets crispy under the broiler, but is not a requirement. “The etymology of gratin is from the French language in which the word “gratter” meaning to “to scrape” as of the “scrapings” of bread or cheese, and gratiné, from the transitive verb form of the word for crust” (WIKI). Au Gratins are baked/broiled in the oven & then served in a (usually Oval) baking dish. I did not use an Au Gratin dish as you can see… my dish is as square as it can be. So I really do not know if it would have tasted any different in an Oval Au Gratin dish.
In this recipe I have baked the Vegetables in a creamy Béchamel or White Sauce, topped with a layer of mashed potatoes, breadcrumbs & cheese. Béchamel, is used in a variety of dishes and is the base for many sauces. It is made by adding milk to Roux (a mixture of flour & butter). This Au Gratin has become a family favorite (initially introduced by my husband )- even my little one who is an extremely picky eater, eats this with a lot of enthusiam.
There are a different ways you could make an Au Gratin, with different vegetables, meat & seafood. Here I am presenting the way we made it for lunch today. Do try out different vegetable combinations & sauce bases.
Here is a Veg. Au Gratin, our Family Style…
Ingredients: (Serves about 4 )
- 4 Cups of vegetables Chopped into small pieces (Example: Peas, Carrots, Green Beans, Corn, Cauliflower, Bell Peppers/Capsicums)
- 1/2 Medium sized Onion Chopped into small pieces
- 3 Large Potatoes Peeled & Boiled.
- 1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs
- 1 Cup Grated Cheese (we used Pepper Jack)
- 2 Tablepoons Butter
- 1 Tomato Chopped (Optional)
Note: Some other wonderful vegetables to add are Artichokes, Asparagus, Fennel & Leek. Please use any combination of vegetables you want. I wrote down only what we used this time.
Small cooked pastas may also be added to the vegetables in the sauce…. & baked using the same procedure as below.
For the Sauce:
- 3 Tbsp. Butter
- 4-5 Tbsp. Flour
- 1- 1.5 Cups Milk
- Freshly Ground White/Black Pepper
To prepare the veggies:
Boil/Steam all the vegetables till tender. There should be no runny water. Set aside.
Heat 1/2 teaspoon of butter, & add the chopped onions & saute till soft & transluscent. Stir in the Vegetables & add salt, toss to combine & switch off the heat.
Mash the boiled potatotes with Salt & Pepper & set aside.
To Prepare the Sauce:
In heavy pan over low heat, melt butter. Stir in flour with a wire whisk. Cook over low heat for three to five minutes, stirring constantly. Do not let it brown. This mixture is called a roux. Gradually stir in milk, whisking constantly. Cook over low heat for 3-5 more minutes until sauce begins to thicken. Season with salt & pepper .
To Assemble & Bake/Broil:
Add the White Sauce & the prepared Vegetables & stir them to thoroughly combine. Do not mash them.
Lightly grease the bottom of a casserole or a baking dish.
Place the vegetables with the sauce on the greased dish.
Place the mashed potatoes in an even layer over the vegetables.
Sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly on the mashed potatoes. Add the rest of the butter in dots over the bread crumb.
Sprinkle the grated cheese in an even layer over the crumbs.
Add the chopped tomatoes on the cheese (this is an optional step- I add these to add some color to the dish & we also like the taste & tang of the slightly grilled tomatoes).
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the dish in the oven & bake for about 20 – 25 minutes. you will see the little bubbles of the sauce from the side.The sauce & the vegetables kind of sets as the water dries up. The cheese will melt and start browing along with the crumbs.
Set the oven to broil. Broil for a couple of minutes. Let the top brown ( if you have noticed, we did not let ours get dark. The cheese was crisp & we did not want it browned futher).
Please feel free to bake & broil it to your taste… but do not let it burn. It soons turns from light brown to black at the Broil mode.
Serve with rolls or garlic bread. Top it off a fresh grind of black pepper if you want. Enjoy!
We all loved it. I had doubts about my little one.. but surprisingly she was the one who enjoyed it most. The dish was all wiped clean:-)
Sending these to DK of Culinary Bazaar for her event A.W.E.D.-French Cuisine this month.