What is Gratin?


My daughter Erin recently tried one of the new recipes I posted, Caribbean Sweet Potato Gratin. She was disappointed because it wasn’t creamy like she expected it to be. When I told Don about Erin’s comments, he said, “Why wouldn’t it be creamy? Doesn’t it have cheese in it? That’s what gratin means!”

I said I thought gratin meant that it had a breadcrumb topping, but he insisted it should have cheese.

I looked at the original recipe, which came from the Moosewood Restaurant New Classics cookbook, to see if it was supposed to have cheese and maybe I left it out. But it wasn’t supposed to have cheese.

I did leave one thing out (I have updated the recipe to include this). It clearly said that the sweet potatoes are supposed to be sliced very thin so that they “cook properly and release enough starch to thicken and set the gratin.” But when I told Erin this, she said that she did slice them very thin; she used a mandoline to slice them. It didn’t get thick (mine doesn’t either) and she didn’t like it. Both Don and I like this recipe, however. We find it tasty and filling. (I’d love to have your opinion. How about trying it and posting a comment?)

When Don looked up gratin on Wikipedia, he found this definition:

“Gratin is a widely used culinary technique in food preparation in which an ingredient is topped with a browned crust, often using breadcrumbs, grated cheese, egg and/or butter. Gratin originated in French cuisine and is usually prepared in a shallow dish of some kind. A gratin is baked or cooked under an overhead grill or broiler to form a golden crust on top and is traditionally served in its baking dish.”

It’s so fun to be right. šŸ™‚

~Lois

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About Lois

My husband, Don Crawford, and I love to cook. For me, it's more about eating delicious food than the actual cooking. I like to cook mostly because I like to eat, and I like the proud sense of accomplishment when the food I make is appreciated by others. For Don, it's all about presentation. So we make a good team. I'm too impatient to create beautiful presentations (usually), but he sweeps in and takes over so it all turns out great. All our recipes are tried and true!
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