As autumn sets in and brings with it crisp mornings and chilly clear days, so too comes the urge to eat comfort food. Everything you couldn’t bear the thought of in the summer… cheesy, starchy, hot-outta-the-oven anything is enough to turn my stomach on the hottest of summer days. But once the potatoes start to roll in and the idea of melted, crusty cheese is irresistible… I start thinking of this recipe.
The smell of fennel baking takes me back to the farm in Italy where I worked for 3 months. It’s a comfort food for sure, and the flavors are wonderful together. Unless you do like I did this time and forget to buy cream, and have to run out to the local grocery store mid-cooking, this is easy to throw together in 20 minutes or so.
Fennel au Gratin
- 4 small fennel bulbs [or more... is there such thing as too much fennel?]
- 1 yellow onion
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 lbs. organic russet potatoes [approx. 4-5]
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 lb. Gruyère cheese [2 1/2 cups grated]
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh-grated black pepper
- 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano [or equivalent]
- Pre-heat oven to 350º. Butter a 10-by-15-by-2-inch (10-cup) baking dish.
- Thinly slice the onion and fennel [don't forget to remove the stalks and core].
- Sauté the onions and fennel in the olive oil and butter on on medium-low heat until tender, approx. 15 minutes.
- While that cooks, wash and peel the potatoes. I like to leave some of the skin on as it adds interest to the dish as well as nutrition! Thinly slice the potatoes by hand or with a mandolin if you have one.
- Find your biggest bowl and mix the sliced potatoes with the cream, 2 1/4 cups of Gruyère, salt and pepper. Then add the sautéed fennel and onions. Mix as well as you can, but remember it will meld together during baking.
- Pour the potatoes into the baking dish and spread them somewhat evenly.
- Sprinkle the remaining Gruyère and the Parmigiano on top.
- Bake for 1 1/2 hours until the potatoes are tender and the top is bubbling and browned.
- Let the dish rest for 10 minutes before serving! Add a little extra salt and pepper to taste.
ENJOY. Try not to eat it all in one sitting – adapted from barefoot contessa cookbook
Raw Rum Latte
Accompanying the fall flavors are the spices of chai and the smell of cinnamon with the richness of rum culminating with what we’re calling the “Raw Rum Latte”. The combination of the richness of raw milk and the chai spices results in a great cool night drink and a perfect accompaniment to the rich cheesy goodness of the gratin.
- 1/2 oz Flor De Cana 12 Year-old rum
- 1 1/2 oz of Dancing Pines Chai Liqueur
- 2 oz Raw or Whole Milk (use 1/2 cream and 1/2 whole milk for richness if desired)
- Chocolate Bitters
- Smoked Paprika
- Combine rum, liqueur, milk and ice in a shaker
- Add in 3 – 4 shakes of chocolate bitters
- Shake well and pour into rock glass
- Top with a small pinch of cinnamon and smoked paprika