Thursday, December 4, 2014

Cooking with Sea Cider Prohibition – Side Dish Recipe

Recipe Pairing Flavors:
A bourbon barrel aged cider full of aromas and flavors of caramel, molasses and rum with a note of toasted oak, that’s all wrapped up in tart-sweet heirloom apples.  Mouthfilling, full-bodied and gently effervescent, Prohibition finishes dry and crisp, with a pleasingly lingering warmth.

Want the Cooking with Sea Cider
Entrée recipe?

Want the Cooking with Sea Cider
Side Dish II recipe?
You’ll find it in next Thursday’s post.

Want the Cooking with Sea Cider
Dessert recipe?
It’ll be following the Side Dish II post.

Want the Cooking with Sea Cider
Dessert II recipe?
We’ll wrap up the series and 2014 with this December 26th post.


“Le Gratin.”  It’s the upper crust. 

But, of French society.

And they’re neither crunchy brown nor delicious – unlike traditional gratins, whose tops are often covered in breadcrumbs or grated cheese and sometimes filled with eggs, butter or cream.  But there’s one thing that’s for certain.  They’re both rich.

But don't think gratins are only for “Le Gratin."  Far from it.

Gratins are scrappy creations, popping up in many guises.  Coming from the French verb “gratter” meaning "to grate or to scrape," it’s the usual "scrapings" of bread or of cheese that give gratins their irresistible crunch.

Potatoes, pasta, seafood, meats or vegetables – they’ve all been known to get the "gratin” treatment.  Potatoes with cream and garlic or potatoes with cream and cheese, pasta with vegetables, breadcrumbs and cheese or chicken coated in a white sauce (called a béchamel) or in a Mornay (a white sauce with cheese), while vegetable gratins sport leeks or asparagus draped in creamy sauces topped with buttery crumbs.

I'm not trying to make you hungry.  Or maybe, I really am.  But there's a lot of flexibility in the universe of gratin.  However, no matter how many different ingredients, there's always one guiding principle, and that is that gratins need to deliver the crunch.

So, in that spirit, I've devised a gratin to satisfy this prime directive, but it’ll deliver the crunch in a whole new way. 

And it's made with sweet potatoes and pears wrapped up in a nutmeg scented cider butter.  However, the crunch isn't baked in, but is sprinkled on after baking, with crisp pears added to the bubbling gratin along with toasted walnuts as a crunchy topping, as it leaves the oven and heads for the table.

So, if you can't wait any longer, well, neither can I.  So, here's my Sweet Potato, Pear & Walnut Gratin, and it's a great cider themed accompaniment to my Honey Glazed Ham main course.


(Serves 6 – 8)

4 large sweet potatoes

3 tablespoons butter (softened)
¼ cup dark brown sugar
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon Sea Cider Prohibition
salt to taste

1 large Bartlett pear (cut crosswise into disks)
¼ cup walnuts (toasted, coarsely chopped)

Set rack to mid-oven and preheat to 400°F.
Rinse the sweet potatoes’ skins, then pierce the skins in two or three places with a knife.
Set them atop an aluminum foil covered sheet pan and bake for about 1 hour until nearly tender.

Allow to cool slightly, then slice into ½-inch disks and shingle in an ovenproof container.
Combine the butter, brown sugar, nutmeg, salt and cider, then distribute over the potatoes.
Transfer the container to the oven to bake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes.

Remove the gratin from the oven and insert the pear disks between every other potato slice before sprinkling with chopped walnuts.

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