This classic gratin dish was developed by Akhtar Nawab and does wonders without overloading on cream or cheese. It makes for a hearty side to go with a flavorful autumnal-spiced protein such as turkey or roasted chicken.
2 butternut squash (medium)
16 ounces low-pasteurized cream
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon Szechuan pepper
2 whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 bunch sage
How to Make It
Cut the butternut squash to separate the neck from the round part of the body. Reserve the round part for another use (only use “neck” for this recipe.)
With a peeler, take off the tough outer skin along the neck.
Toast the spices in a pan until aromatic and leave to cool. Once cool grind them in a spice grinder until it reaches fine, powder-like consistency.
Combine the roasted spices with the cold cream and set aside.
Heat the oil in a small pot on medium heat. When hot, add sage to pan and fry until crisp.
Shave the necks of the squash on a slicer, mandoline, or by hand with a sharp knife to produce discs that are the natural shape of the squash, about ¼” thick.
Once complete, lay an even layer of squash in a terrine mold or baking dish to completely cover the bottom. It is OK to use odd pieces to cover any gaps.
Once you have a flat, even layer, ladle some of the spiced cream mixture over the squash to create a very thin coating over the sliced squash. Sprinkle on a thin layer of parmesan cheese and 4-5 crispy sage leaves.
Continue this process until the gratin is layered almost to the top of the baking dish. It is very important to have at least 15 layers of squash in each mold to achieve the right texture.
Once fully built, cover with foil and place in a 300 degree oven. Bake, covered, for about 50 minutes, until the squash is tender when pierced with a knife or cake tester. Should be little to no resistance.
Remove the foil and top with remaining cheese and more crispy sage.
Bake until the cheese looks caramelized, 10-15 minutes.
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