Any baked or broiled dish topped with a mix of cheese or bread crumbs and butter is known as a gratin. Potatoes are one of the most popular ingredients for a gratin, but many vegetables take well to being prepared this way. Baked pastas, such as macaroni and cheese, and grains, such as polenta and rice, also make wonderful gratins.
To bake a gratin
Use a shallow, ovenproof pan that will give you the most surface area, which allows for a high proportion of crisp topping.
Choosing vegetables for a gratin
Consider the starch content of the vegetable, as well as its ability to absorb or render liquid. Starchy vegetables such as potatoes work well because they absorb some of the cooking liquid and thicken it at the same time. When using vegetables that don't absorb much liquid, such as leeks, artichokes, and onions, cook them briefly before adding to the gratin, and add more liquid along with them.
Let gratins rest for 15 minutes before serving. This will give them time to absorb any liquid left in the dish.
Adding color, flavor and aroma to gratin
A good sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese over any gratin will greatly improve it. Paprika makes a nice touch too.
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