Winter Greens and Butternut Squash Gratin

Reprinted with permission from Basic to Brilliant, Y'all: 150 Refined Southern Recipes and Ways to Dress Them Up for Company by Virginia Willis, copyright (c) 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.
TOTAL TIME: 1 hr 40 min
Prep: 20 min
Inactive Prep: 10 min
Cook: 1 hr 10 min
 
YIELD: Serves 8 to 10
LEVEL: Easy

ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, plus more for the gratin dish
  • 2 butternut squashes, (about 3 pounds total), cut in half lengthwise and seeded
  • 1 (10-ounce) bag chopped kale
  • 2 tablespoons pure olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground allspice
  • Leaves from 4 sprigs thyme, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons plain or whole-wheat fresh or panko (Japanese) breadcrumbs
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces)
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Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a large gratin dish.

Peel the squash, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices; set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the kale and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well in a colander, then squeeze out any excess water.

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and the well-drained greens. Cook until the greens are slightly wilted, 3 to 4 minutes. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, place half the sliced squash in the prepared dish and season with salt and pepper. Combine the nutmeg, allspice, and thyme in a small bowl. Spoon the kale over the squash and sprinkle with half the seasoning mixture. Top with remaining squash and sprinkle with the remaining seasoning.

Pour the cream over the gratin and cover with a piece of aluminum foil. Bake for 25 minutes, remove the foil, and press down on the squash with a spatula to compress. Cover and continue baking until the squash is soft when pierced with the tip of a knife, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the breadcrumbs and cheese in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Decrease the oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Remove the foil from the gratin dish and sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the squash. Dot with the butter and continue baking, uncovered, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Brilliant Short Recipe:
Slow Cooker Turkey

I went round and round on how to elevate this interesting and delicious dish to Brilliant. What I kept returning to was how many people have commented to me that they have added this recipe to their Thanksgiving repertoire. Quite the feat, I think, since that's an almost impenetrable list of recipes to infiltrate. I decided that turkey must be the key. This is a bit more complex than some of my Brilliant suggestions, but it's also the only one that calls for a slow cooker, and it still uses just a handful of ingredients.

Season a 4- to 6-pound boneless turkey breast with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place the breast, skin side up, in a slow cooker. Pour over 1/4 cup Madeira; add 1 onion, preferably Vidalia, sliced, 1 sprig thyme; 1 garlic clove; and 1 tablespoon of honey. Seal with the lid. Cook on high heat, turning once, until tender, 3 to 4 hours.

Remove to a clean cutting board and cover with foil. Let the turkey rest before slicing. Pour the broth into a fat separator or remove the grease with a spoon. Strain the broth into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Keep warm over low heat. Remove the skin, slice the turkey, and place on the bottom of a warmed serving plate. Top with a spoonful of Winter Green and Butternut Squash Gratin. Serves 8 to 10.

Reprinted with permission from Basic to Brilliant, Y'all: 150 Refined Southern Recipes and Ways to Dress Them Up for Company by Virginia Willis, copyright (c) 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

Photograph by Helene Dujardin (c) 2011

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