Carrot and Sharp Cheddar Gratin

I’ve had my eye on this recipe from my December 2012 Fine Cooking for a few months, and I finally decided to make it last week. No surprise, carrots covered in heavy cream, butter, cheddar cheese and panko were a big hit. Obviously, almost any vegetable covered with these ingredients would be a big hit, so go ahead and modify if you wish. Then you can be one of those braggy playground moms who says, “Connor just LOVES when I make <insert one> turnips, broccoli, parsnips, kale, etc.” They don’t need to know the whole story.

All kidding aside, this would make a lovely side dish for a holiday meal or a Sunday dinner. I was short on carrots and had a daikon radish which wasn’t getting any younger, so I threw that in there to make up for the carrot shortfall. You can also substitute parsnips for half the carrots.

Fine Cooking’s Sharp Cheddar and Carrot Gratin, original recipe here

1 oz. (2 Tbs.) unsalted butter; more at room temperature for the dish

1-1/2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1/2-in. dice (about 1-1/2 cups)

Kosher salt

1 cup plain panko

2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

1 cup heavy cream

1 Tbs. Dijon mustard

Freshly ground black pepper

3 lb. large carrots (about 12), peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick half-moons

4 oz. coarsely grated sharp Cheddar (1 cup)

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9×13-in. (or similar) baking dish. In a 12-in. skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and 1/2 tsp. salt and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spatula, until golden-brown, 7 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the butter and pour into a medium bowl. Add the panko, parsley, and thyme and toss well.

Whisk the heavy cream, mustard, 1-1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4  tsp. pepper into the onion, scraping up any browned bits, and then stir in the carrots. Bring just to a boil, cover, lower the heat to medium low, and simmer until the carrots are crisp-tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

Spread the carrot mixture evenly in the prepared dish. Scatter the Cheddar over the carrots, top with the panko mixture, and bake until the carrots are tender when pierced with a fork and the crumbs are golden-brown, 30 to 40 minutes.

Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.

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