• erin

    Dumplings with my family
    A recent graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, I found myself with no money, no kitchen equipment, and an exceptionally huge appetite. Ideas, improvisations, and yummy meal solutions were discovered in the kitchen of my very first apartment.
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Individual Sweet Potato Gratins with Creme Fraiche, Onions, and Bacon

One of my co-workers sent me an email about a fantastic new website, called Food52. Food 52 is the ultimate food fight, where cooks all around are battling it out in weekly recipe contests. Two contests a week for a full year, and 52 weeks later the website will produce a cookbook with the winning recipes.

I had to give it a try, because I love being inspired by challenges. The best part about Food52, is that they are sending out really generic titles in the hopes of stirring up the best ideas out there. And boy, have there been some amazing ideas. I love this savory plum tart which won for “Best Fruit Tart”.

This week’s challenges: Best Potato Gratin and Best Apple Cake. Since Matt is a general carbophobe (meaning he just doesn’t usually eat too many of them. I know, I didn’t know that existed, either), I stuck with his favorite: sweet potatoes. Combined with bacon, onions, a creamy bechamel, and a touch of creme fraiche, it won best gratin to date in our household. A great dish for fall, to boot.

Individual Sweet Potato Gratins with Creme Fraiche, Onions, and Bacon

Serves 2.
Leftover Potential: If you make a big batch you can refrigerate leftovers and reheat in the oven, but it will only last this way a day or two.

3 oz bacon, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large sweet potato, very thinly sliced (1/8″ thick)
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup whole milk
3 Tbsp creme fraiche
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 Tbsp brown sugar
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
parmesan cheese, grated, to taste

1. Lightly grease 2 individual baking dishes (I used a bowl that holds roughly 1 1/2 cups). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a small saute pan, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove from heat, and toss with onion and garlic.
3. In a small pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour, and cook until the mixture is well combined but still pale. Stir in the milk and the creme fraiche.
4. Reduce the heat to low and bring the bechamel to a simmer. Stir in nutmeg, brown sugar, salt, and pepper.
5. Layer 4-6 slices of potato at the base of each of the prepared baking dishes. Top with a few tablespoons of bechamel, and a few spoonfuls of the bacon mixture. Repeat with another layer of potatoes, another layer of bechamel, and more bacon. Top with one last layer of potatoes, and spoon remaining bechamel over the top. Finish with a sprinkling of grated parmesan cheese.
6. Bake the gratins until they are bubbly around the edges and cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

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