Hockey Pumpkin? and Sweet Potato Gratin


Skip straight to recipe here.

Somebody found my blog through the term “hockey pumpkin”?  Why were you looking up “hockey pumpkin”?  Why did my post come up?  I’ve said nothing about hockey.  The interwebs are a strange, strange place, kids, and frankly, I’m a little frightened and may need to take to my bed, and in related news, does anyone sell smelling salts anymore?  Let’s find out –

Smelling Salts

Ok, apparently yes.  I don’t really need smelling salts though.  I’m quite able to keep my wits about me, such as they are, even in the face of the hockey pumpkin mystery.

Incidentally, I googled hockey pumpkin and my page was nowhere in sight. Where were they searching?

In non-related hockey pumpkin news, though still orange-colored as tidings go, I bring you Sweet Potato and Gruyère Gratin.

Every spring, I forget entirely about gratin.  Though potatoes are still available, in the time of returning picnics and long walks, when I contemplate potatoes, which is often, I’m thinking crispy and portable. Potatoes occupy more of my brain space than I would like to admit.  But when the cold starts to seep back, I remember that potatoes, whom we all know are seriously involved with ketchup to the point of wearing its pin and telling all the girls how they kissed behind the church, I remember that potatoes have a side-thing going with cream and cheese.  It’s pretty tawdry.  And by tawdry, I mean delicious.  And by delicious, I mean irresistible.

My first encounter with gratin was one of my favorite food memories – which I’m going to maybe do an aside soon where I run through my top ten food memories and ask you, readers, to do the same. But for now, this recipe is possibly the most intoxicating incarnation of one of my favorite food memories.  If you have a fireplace, you need to make this, start a fire, bring a fork and the whole pan to the crackling fireside, because I promise you there is no way to estimate how much you will actually eat I’ve seen people go back for fifths, and a glass of hearty red isn’t going to hurt anything and it would be great if leaves were whipping past the windows or even better snowflakes and a faint howl could be detected in the near distance and you had super fluffy comfortable socks on and were swaddled in something luxurious and plush and had a dog nestled comfortably on either side if you can swing that or at the very least a cat on your shoulder purring lushly and just sit there with no other sounds and enjoy one of the most comfortable contented moments you will ever have.  This even works without the fire.  This gratin is just that good.

**disclaimer – I don’t really like sweet potatoes.  If you don’t really like sweet potatoes, it’s alright.  You’re among friends here. This is the recipe for you.**

4-5 cloves of roasted garlic
1 cup heavy cream
2 large sweet potatoes, sliced very thin
8 oz of Gruyère, grated
salt and pepper to taste

You can cut the top off a head of garlic pour on a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt, covering it with foil, and roast at 375 for 45 minutes to an hour.  I didn’t have time for that, so I chopped my garlic into slices and confited it –

Confit is just another word for something poached in fat.

Cover the garlic slices in oil in a small pan, put the heat on low and wait until the garlic started to just brown around the edges. Turned off heat. 10-15 minutes later, strain out the softened garlic and smashed it with some salt. Reserve garlic oil for other uses.

Preheat the oven to 400. Add the smashed garlic to the cream, heat it on medium until bubbles form around the edge and wisps of steam rise from the pan.  Do not boil.  Turn off the heat, and let the garlic infuse into the cream for 10 minutes.

Note on slicing potatoes – I find the easiest/quickest way is to split the potato in half lengthwise, turn the flat side on the cutting board, and not have to hold the potato steady or chase it around the board.  Whatever is quickest for you.

To assemble – 1 thin layer of potatoes, salt and pepper liberally (those taters need lots of salt), light sprinkling of cheese, quarter cup of infused cream, repeat – don’t forget to salt and pepper each layer of potatoes, third layer finish with a heavy sprinkle of cheese.  The top needs to be almost completely covered. Bake until golden brown and fork tender, about 30-45 minutes depending on the thickness of your slices.

If it’s brown before it’s tender, cover in foil.

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