Wednesday, October 12, 2005

the fastest way to au gratin

More orange food, should you even need any more convincing than that?

The inspiration of this dish is actually very Japanese (modern Japanese/West fusion -- Japanese are really into the rice gratin, and really into sweet potato) and then with the advent of the Moosewood cookbook style (also pan-everything).

Sweet Potato Rice Au Gratin

1/2 can of sweet potato puree
1/2 onion minced
knob of butter and bit of olive oil
1 cup uncooked short grained rice (I use nishikin white rice short-medium grained)
2 cups of chicken broth or veggie broth
1/2 cup of white wine or dry vermouth, sake or rice wine (I keep a bottle of Nolly Prat stashed for cooking),
Dry vermouth is what Julia Child always cooked with -- what a great lady.
2 inches square wedge of parmesan reggiano
1 cup of milk (any, I used skim)
4-5 slices of good extra sharp cheddar
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 t dried parsley if you have any
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

rice cooker

Cook the rice in the rice cooker with the mixture of chicken broth and wine instead of water (it takes about 20 minutes to cook up). Saute the onion in the butter/olive oil mix (the oil keeps it from burning), then add 2-3 sprigs of the thyme, if you have energy to bother with it, pick off the leaves and throw them in. I tend to half heartedly pick and then just throw the whole sprig in. Add the parsley, and fry it up for a minute or so. Take the cooked winey/broth infused rice, throw it in with the onions and herbs, when it is well mixed, add in the puree using water or broth to dilute to a soupy mix -- not too soupy, not too thick. At this point a good tip is to put the puree and broth/water mix into liquid measuring cup and pour out a little out at a time while coating the rice mix. I would err on the side of less sweet potato puree, since the dish is already going to be so wonderfully heavy in a comfort food fashion.

Then, in a gratin dish, or any dish you have with sides and is bakeable put the sweet potato rice mixture in stirring in the cup of milk and grated parmesan and spread out nicely. Add some slices of cheddar on top with some more thyme and broil until bubbling, and the cheese is satisfyingly browned and chewy, which is about another 15 minutes, but check/know your oven.

Serve with freshly ground pepper. If you'd like to get fancy, do these in small personal sized gratin dishes like the big ramekins. Serves four, I think.

This side dish could lean more towards Western or Japanese. This could very well go along with a bunch of izakaya dishes (Japanese Tapas) or could be readily served in a Vegetarian American meal, or even as a side dish to chicken.

Eat, and then happily sink into an orange food coma.

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