Every holiday, I make a gratin. Historically with my family, it includes celery root, because everyone loves it. A couple years ago there was a celery root shortage, so I decided to play around with rutabagas. I hadn't really cooked with them, but they were the same size and texture as celery root, so why not?! Because rutabagas are a bit more pungent, I paired them with sweet apple. The dish ended up being a crowd favorite, and is now requested each year. To make this dish, use a firm apple, like a Pink Lady, Honeycrisp or Granny Smith - otherwise the apples disintegrate and don't stand up to the rutabaga. Feel free to use Gruyère cheese instead of the Irish cheddar.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature + 1 tablespoon for baking
- 3 apples, washed and cored (skin-on) – I like Pink Lady Apples
- 3 rutabagas the same size as the apples, (skin-on) both ends trimmed
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves + 2 branches to garnish
- 2½ cups heavy whipping cream
- 1½ teaspoons sea salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- ½ cup grated aged white cheddar cheese (I use Kerrygold Dubliner)
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Butter the sides and bottom of a 9”x13” baking dish.
Using a large, serrated knife or mandolin, slice the apples and rutabagas ⅛” thin. Place the slices upright in the baking dish, alternating apple and rutabaga. As you put them together, they will lay back on each other to about a 70° angle when the dish is filled. Scatter the thyme evenly on top. Pour in the cream, making sure to coat as much of the apple and rutabaga as possible. Use the last tablespoon of butter to dot the top. Season with the salt and pepper. Arrange the thyme branches in the center of the dish.
Bake in the oven on the center rack for 50 minutes. Top with the cheese. Continue baking for 15-20 minutes until the rutabagas are tender when inserted with a knife and the cheese is golden and bubbly.
Remove from the oven. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.