Fondant Swede Gratin
This is a side dish which can either support a larger act – such as the Confit duck or the Lamb rump from NOPI: The Cookbook – or work as a show-stealing side. The gratin is complete and substantial enough to also work as a stand-alone main course for supper, if you like.
Don’t baulk at the amount of butter needed here, please. Something doesn’t get to be called fondant without a certain amount of the golden stuff in the equation.
We serve these as individual portions at NOPI, however, we’ve converted it to rustic one-dish fare for the home cook but, for something a bit more elegant, divide the gratin between four 12cm–wide ramekins, soufflé dishes or copper pans.
Caerphilly is a hard white mild cow’s cheese originally produced in South Wales. It has a crumbly texture and a clean, tangy taste. Other crumbly cheeses – Cheshire, Wensleydale, a young Lancashire or Cornish Yarg, for example – are all good alternatives.
If you want to get ahead and prepare this in advance, take it up to the point where the gratin is due to go in the oven and just bake it half an hour before you are ready to serve.
- 140g unsalted butter
- 1 large swede, peeled and cut into 1cm dice (1kg)
- 1 medium Savoy Cabbage, thinly sliced (320g)
- 150ml vegetable stock
- 120g Caerphilly, roughly crumbled into 1cm pieces
- 300ml double cream
- coarse sea salt and black pepper
- For the herb crust:
- 25g fresh white breadcrumbs
- 1/2 tbsp thyme leaves
- 1 tbsp tarragon leaves, roughly chopped
- finely grated zest of 1/2 small lemon
Place all the ingredients for the herb crust in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside.
Melt 100g of butter in a large sauté pan on a medium heat. Add the swede, along with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered, for about an hour, spooning the butter over the swede from time to time and turning it once or twice until the swede is completely soft and caramelized. Remove from the pan, drain away any excess butter, and set aside.
Return the pan to a medium heatwith the remaining 40g of butter. Stir in the cabbage, along with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a grind of black pepper, then pour over the stock. Cook for 10–15 minutes, until the cabbage is soft and there are about 3 tablespoons of stock left in the pan. Strain in a colander and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas mark 7.
Spread the cabbage out on the base of a rectangular ovenproof dish, 18cm by 25cm wide and 7cm deep (or individual ramekins, as an alternative). Sprinkle over half the cheese and spread the swede pieces on top. Pour over the cream, then crumble the remaining cheese on top. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Scatter over the herb crust and cook for a further 10–15 minutes, switching the oven to a hot grill for the final 2 minutes if the breadcrumbs need some help to become golden. Keep a close eye out if you do this, as the crumbs can quickly burn. Serve at once.