Turnip Root and Green Gratin

Published 7:08 am Sunday, December 1, 2019

Turnip Root and Green Gratin

Recipe by: Vivian Howard, courtesy Got To Be NC

Even people who can’t stand turnips of any kind will like this because when you bake roots, greens, cream, cheese and bread together, the bubbling, crunchy thing that emerges from the oven is magic. Serve it with roasted meats or instead of dressing at holiday dinners. For ease of entertaining, assemble the gratin the night before and bake it off when you’re ready.

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Recipe from “Deep Run Roots: Stories & Recipes from My Corner of the South,” by Vivian Howard (Little, Brown and Company, 2016).


2 tbsp butter, divided

3 medium onions, halved and sliced with the grain

1 ½ tbsp salt, divided

2 cups turnip roots (about 2 to 3 medium turnips), peeled and cut into ½-inch dice

2 cups heavy cream

5 garlic cloves, sliced thin

½ tsp dried thyme

8 oz. greens (4 cups), wilted to 1 cup

1 egg

1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated on a Microplane

1 cup Fontina, grated on a box grater

10 turns of the pepper mill or scant ¼ teaspoon black pepper

3 cups stale crusty bread cut into ½-inch cubes


Step 1

Preheat your oven to 375°F and rub the inside of a 2- to 3-quart baking dish with 2 teaspoons butter.

Step 2

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in an 8- to 10-inch sauté pan or skillet and add the onions plus ½ teaspoon salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the onions are caramelized and chestnut brown, about 30 minutes. If the onions stick and the bottom of the pan looks dangerous, add 1/3 cup water. Scrape up all the dark bits and cook out the water. You should end up with about 2/3 cup caramelized onions.

Step 3

Bring a 6-quart pot of heavily salted water up to a rolling boil and set up an ice bath nearby. Add the turnip roots and cook them for 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer them to the ice bath to stop the cooking. Once they’re cool, drain and dry the turnips.

Step 4

Meanwhile, in a 2-quart saucepan, gently heat the cream with the garlic and the thyme to just under a simmer. The goal is to let the cream steep, not boil, for about 30 minutes. Once it’s done, set it aside and let it cool slightly.

Step 5

If you want to wash as few dishes as possible, like I do, melt the remaining butter in the same saute pan you used for your onions. Add the turnip greens and ½ teaspoon salt. Let them wilt down for about two minutes. Transfer the greens to a colander and press as much liquid out as you can. Transfer the greens to your cutting board and run your knife through them.

Step 6

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, cooled cream, cheese, remaining salt, black pepper, and onions. Stir in the roots, greens, and bread. Transfer the gloppy mess to your baking dish and let it rest for about 10 minutes (or overnight) before baking uncovered for 45 minutes. Serve warm.



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