Gratin takes many forms, but most gratins are based on potatoes, bread crumbs, and cheese. I got a big bunch of leafy red kale and a bag of yellow potatoes in my Full Circle Farm box this week, so I decided to hybridize two different gratin recipes to create this delicious dish. This is a good example of fusion cooking -- locally-sourced ingredients prepared in classic French style. Nutrient-rich kale adds texture and vibrance to the potato base, while generous use of cheese and bacon keep this dish true to its country roots. This is comfort food to be sure, and a perfectly satisfying meal for a crisp Autumn day.
1 large bunch kale, washed, large stems discarded, leaves torn up
3-4 medium yellow potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4" thick rounds
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 pieces bacon
8 oz. semi-hard cheese (e.g. cheddar or gouda), grated
1/2 cup chicken stock or broth
1 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Blanch the kale leaves for 3 minutes, drain, rinse with cool water, and squeeze out excess water. Set kale aside.
2. Bring another large pot of water to a boil. Add the potato slices and boil for 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon. Arrange potato slices on the bottom of a 9x13 glass baking dish.
3. Preheat the oven to 350F.
4. In a large pot, fry the bacon over medium heat, turning regularly so it does not burn. Remove when crisped and set aside. Reserve the bacon fat.
5. Add the onions to the pot and saute over medium heat until soft but not brown, about 4 minutes.
6. Raise the heat to high. Add the chicken stock and boil to reduce liquid by half, about 3-4 minutes.
7. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir for 2 minutes until the milk is heated but not boiling.
8. Add the kale, egg, and all but 1/4 cup of cheese. Stir to thoroughly combine.
9. Pour the kale mixture over the top of the potatoes in the baking dish.
10. Spread the bread crumbs and the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese over the top.
11. Crumble the cooked bacon on top.
12. Bake for 40 minutes until the cheese is melted and the gratin is beginning to bubble around the edges.
I served the gratin with a crisp garden salad and a glass of Bordeaux.