Monday, October 4, 2010

Culinary Chronicles: Swiss Chard and Tomatillo Gratin

I made this dish a few weeks ago after my friend Deirdre brought me a mixed bunch of chard and kale.  I looked around the kitchen and saw a lot of tomatillos sitting on the counter, and the idea of a gratin popped into my head.  As I've said before, I've been trying to use tomatillos in as many non-Mexican dishes as possible, just to extend their range.  This gratin turned out so well that I'll definitely be making it again, and it may end up being my contribution to the annual Thanksgiving potluck that my mom and I attend every year.  

I'm not the type who has pre-made breadcrumbs at the ready in my frig, so I made them quickly by toasting whole grain bread, tearing it into chunks and grinding it in my food processor.  I added a few shakes of smoked Spanish paprika during the last few rotations.  The smokiness gave the breadcrumbs a nice subtle spiciness against the cream sauce of the greens.  Super tasty, so I thought I'd share.

Partially assembled.

Swiss Chard and Tomatillo Gratin (4 to 6 servings depending on size)

1 large bunch of swiss chard
4 to 6 large tomatillos, cut into bite sized pieces
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 TBSP flour
1 cup milk
2 TBSP butter, plus more for topping
1/2 cup grated cheese, swiss or gruyere
1 cup bread crumbs**
Spanish smoked paprika

Wash, dry and chop the chard leaves into large pieces, and the stems into bite size pieces. In a covered saucepan bring about a cup of water to a boil, then add in the chard and let it steam for just a couple of minutes until its just wilted slightly. Remove from heat, but save some of the water in case you need to water down the roux a bit.  Remove the husks from the tomatillos, and wash under the tap until the stickiness is removed.  Chop into bite sized pieces and set aside.

Meanwhile, slowly melt butter in a skillet. Make a roux by sprinkling in the flour and stirring while it browns a little. Add in chopped garlic, keep stirring and add in milk slowly. Whisk to remove any lumps. Add in half of the grated cheese and stir until melted and incorporated smoothly. Season with salt and pepper. If needed, add in some of the chard water so that the sauce has a loose gravy like consistency. Once the sauce is finished, make sure that the chard is well drained then mix together the chard, tomatillos, and sauce. In a separate bowl, mix bread crumbs with a dash of salt, pepper, and a few shakes of smoked paprika. Spread into a buttered baking dish, and top with breadcrumb mixture, remaining cheese and little dabs of butter. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until topping is browned and vegetable mixture is bubbling. Serve!

(**This originally was 1/2 cup of bread crumbs after making it with a different casserole dish I decided to up the quantity for a thicker topping).

Tiny butter cubes and pepper as the final prep before the oven.
Browned and crunchy topping, just out of the oven.

About to be devoured.

No comments:

Post a Comment