by Sheri Castle of Creative Cooking with Sheri Castle
I love this gratin. It brings out the silky, naturally sweet flavor of winter squash without adding lots more sugar or other sweeteners. Instead, it is laced with fresh herbs and topped with a delicate, crunchy, nutty Gruyere crust. Simple, yet impressive, this is a perfect Thanksgiving side dish. I will admit that it takes a little work to peel a butternut squash. I suggest cutting it into large pieces and then peeling those pieces with several passes of a vegetable peeler.
Makes 10 to 12 servings
1 medium butternut squash (about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
4 cups thinly sliced onions (about 1 pound)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
2 cups grated Gruyere cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
Preheat the oven to 350º. Butter a 9x13 non-metal baking dish.
Peel and seed the squash and cut it into 1/2-inch cubes.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and squash and sauté them until the onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the sugar, salt and pepper over the squash and continue cooking until the vegetables are tender and begin to caramelize, about 5 minutes.
Spread the squash mixture into the prepared baking dish. Pour over the chicken broth. Cover the dish with foil and bake the mixture for 15 minutes.
(Make-ahead note: You can prepare the dish to this point up to one day ahead. Remove the foil, let the mixture cool and then cover and refrigerate. Heat the mixture in a 350º oven for 10 minutes before proceeding.)
Increase the oven temperature to 400º. Mix the breadcrumbs, cheese, rosemary and thyme in a bowl. Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the squash mixture. Bake the gratin uncovered until the top is golden brown and crisp, about 20 minutes. Let the gratin rest for 10 minutes before serving.