Sometimes you need something creamy, a little sweet, with some spice. This last Sunday evening, I was craving something soft and rich and gorgeous. Not baby food, it should still have some texture, but I wanted it to be velveteen with an underlying almost fierce bite. It needed to be savoury too and it better have a cheesy crust, lets make that a parmesan one.
I eyed up the squash that had been idling on my counter and decided that the day had come to tackle it. Halved, seeds removed, peeled and sliced in my food processor, I now knew what I needed. I needed a gratin rich with cream, fragrant with sage and with some gentle heat. 36 month old parmesan from my last trip to Italy, fine grated and sprinkled generously on top will make a perfect crust.
The important thing with a gratin is make sure that you have time to infuse the cream, and also that there is enough seasoning. The best is to let the cream sit with garlic and whatever else you need. When I say cream I mean actual cream, single cream or heavy cream if you are in the US or Canada. Heated until before boiling, then infused with sage, gochugaru (Korean red pepper, chilli or paprika will also do) and a lot of garlic. 30 minutes later in with the squash slices. Turned gently until all were well coated, I removed them to a series of greased ovenproof dishes, 2 small and one medium. Gratin is best an inch thick so that you have plenty of texture and richness and lots of gorgeous crust.
45 minutes in the oven, I watched the infused cream bubble around the edge fighting the parmesan hat on top. When it was golden approaching dark I removed it and savoured every bite. Joyful and reassuring. And don’t we all need a little bit of that at the moment.
This is definitely one for my regular repertoire. For yours too. Enjoy!
- 1 average butternut squash, halved with seeds and skin removed
- 250ml single (heavy) cream
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
- 50g parmesan, finely grated
- 1 tsp Korean gochugaru (adjust to taste - use chilli of your choice or paprika if preferred)
- sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- ovenproof shallow dish or dishes (make about an inch deep)
Slice the squash finely, using a mandolin or food processor is best. If using a knife try and make them even. The thinner the slice the better the gratin.
Bring the cream to before the boil. Turn the heat off and add the garlic, sage, a generous grind of black pepper and gochugaru or chilli / paprika. Leave to infuse for half an hour at room temperature.
Preheat your oven to 180 deg C. Add the squash slices to the infused cream and stir gently ensuring that all slices are coated.
Grease the dish(es) that will house the gratin with neutral oil or butter. Aim to have your gratin an inch thick, higher if you prefer of course. I just love that crust!
Spread the squash until it is even and pour the remaining cream on top. Sprinkle the parmesan on top evenly.
Roast until the top is brown and the squash is tender (check with a skewer or a knife).