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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Shaker Sweet Potato Gratin

My husband and I celebrated our 7th anniversary back in January. We typically splurge on our anniversary meals, but we decided to stick close to home this year. Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, the country's largest restored Shaker community, is just about 20 minutes from our home. It's a great place to discover history and take walks, but it also has a wonderful restaurant. Typically, they serve meals in the Inn at Shaker Village, but during the winter months, they serve dinner in the Winter Kitchen, a cozy cellar with a fireplace. The fare is simple, yet delicious, and the chefs really spotlight the ingredients (which in the summer are harvested from their own garden). One of the side dishes I had that night was a sweet potato gratin--I loved it so much that I wrote to Shaker Village and asked if they would share the recipe, and they were kind enough to send it to me.

This is simple to make, but only make what you need; the leftovers do not store well.

Shaker Sweet Potato Gratin
adapted from Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill's Winter Kitchen
Serves 6 as a side dish

1 large sweet potato, peeled and thinly sliced (Use a mandoline if you have one--you want the slices to be as thin as possible.)
1 cup heavy cream
1/8 tsp dried rosemary
1/8 tsp dried sage
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 Tbl butter

Heat the heavy cream, rosemary, sage and garlic powder in a small saucepan and simmer for about 10 minutes. Do not boil.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Grease a small casserole dish with butter. (I use an 11" x 7" glass dish.) Cover the bottom of the dish with the potatoes. Spoon over a couple of tablespoons of the cream. Sprinkle with a little bit of parmesan cheese. Continue this process until the dish is full. Pour any remaining cream over the top and sprinkle on any leftover cheese.

Melt the butter in a microwave in a small microwave-safe bowl. Add the bread crumbs and toss. Sprinkle over the casserole. Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes or until the potatoes are completely softened. If the bread crumbs haven't browned by the time the potatoes are done, place under a broiler until they are browned.

Serve hot.

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Chef E March 16, 2011 at 11:50 AM  

You have convinced me, I have cheese, potatoes and all the other fixins for this one!

Peggy March 16, 2011 at 5:01 PM  

I absolutely love sweet potatoes and finding new ways to use them. Don't think I've ever made a gratin with them, so definitely going to give this a go next time I have some in the pantry!

Anonymous,  March 17, 2011 at 9:00 PM  

I just watched a super great documentary by Ken Burns on the Shakers. It had beautiful cinematography of their village in KY. They came across as very generous people. It's nice to see they seem to be in real life, too. Sweet potatoes have almost become as regular as peanut butter in our home. YUM! Love, E

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