So you may recall that last week there was a dish specifically designed to use up beet greens, but the beets themselves never made an appearance. Here they are! I deeply regret not taking a picture of them while they were fresh and intact, because they were beautiful – but you’ll just have to cope with pictures of the finished product, a gratin of beets, potatoes, and cheese. The beets were from Blue Heron Farm, and the potatoes from Frog’s Song Farm. The cheese was from the supermarket (sorry, the local cheesemaker doesn’t do Gruyère-style).
This is based on an actual recipe from one of our old standbys, the San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook. It calls for specific quantities and measurements, of course, but I never have the exact amounts of anything so I end up just tossing stuff in however. The key is adding plenty of cheese and cream.
Basic method for building a potato-beet gratin:
Take whole potatoes and beets, about 3 pounds total – any proportion works. Put the potatoes in one pot and the beets in another. Cover with water and simmer until just tender. Slip the skins off under cold running water, slice thinly and set aside.
Grate a nice big pile of Gruyère or Emmental cheese – the more the merrier. Chop a little fresh rosemary. Butter a casserole dish and put in a layer of beets. Sprinkle with cheese, some rosemary, salt and pepper. Add a layer of potatoes and repeat, alternating beets and potatoes. Continue until the pan is full or you run out of everything. Coat the top with breadcrumbs, dot with butter and pour a cup of cream over the top (really, it needs to be at least a cup – shut your eyes if necessary). Bake at 350° until hot, bubbly and crispy on top.
Excellent eaten immediately, but makes a great leftover, especially for breakfast with a fried egg (I know, I say that about everything, but it’s true!)