For potluck, a sweet potato casserole

February 10, 2007|By Betty Rosbottom | Betty Rosbottom,Tribune Media Services

Whenever I am invited to a potluck, I instinctively offer to make dessert, but recently, when a good friend mentioned that she'd like to have us over for such a supper, I volunteered to bring a vegetable. I did this because I was anxious to try a new dish one of my enthusiastic assistants had developed.

The recipe was for a sweet potato gratin, which had been fashioned after a similar dish I had created using Yukon Gold potatoes and creme fraiche. My talented helper, Emily Bell, had replaced the white spuds with sweet potatoes, and used rosemary in place of thyme as a seasoning. She also had included some grated Gruyere cheese to enhance the flavor of the tubers.

Nothing could be simpler to assemble. A layer of peeled, thinly sliced sweet potato rounds are nestled in a baking pan, sprinkled with rosemary, salt and pepper, then topped with creme fraiche and grated cheese. After a second layer is added, the gratin is baked until the potatoes are tender and the top is slightly crusty and golden.

These delicious potatoes would make a worthy accompaniment to all sorts of hearty entrees. Ham, roast pork or chicken, and grilled sausages would all pair beautifully with this delectable gratin - a definite advantage when choosing a dish for a potluck. And the bright-orange hue of the potatoes provides a much-needed burst of color to a cold-weather menu.

Betty Rosbottom writes for Tribune Media Services.

Emily's Winter Sweet Potato Gratin

Serves 6

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened for greasing the baking dish

3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced into rounds

1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary, crushed, divided use

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup creme fraiche, divided use (see note)

2/3 cup grated Gruyere cheese, divided use

Arrange a rack at center position and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a shallow, 2-quart, oven-to-table baking dish generously.

Arrange half of the potato slices in the bottom of the prepared pan, overlapping them tightly. Season generously with half of the rosemary and half the salt and pepper. With a spatula, spread half of the creme fraiche thinly over the potatoes. Sprinkle half the cheese over the creme fraiche. Repeat to make another layer.

Bake until potatoes are tender when pierced with a sharp knife, and gratin is golden on top, 30 to 40 minutes, depending on thickness of potatoes. If potatoes are not done, and top is starting to brown too quickly, cover gratin with a sheet of buttered foil, buttered side down. When done, remove gratin from oven and let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Note: Two types of sweet potato are available in the United States. One has pale tan skin and light-colored orange flesh, while the other (often erroneously labeled yams in the supermarket) has a dark, copper-hued skin and rich orange flesh. The latter variety (with its bright-orange flesh) is the one I like to use in this recipe.

Note: Creme fraiche is available in most groceries.

Per serving: 283 calories, 7 grams protein, 14 grams fat, 9 grams saturated fat, 33 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fiber, 35 milligrams cholesterol, 268 milligrams sodium

Recipe analysis provided by registered dietitian Jodie Shield.


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