Potatoes sliced and baked with herbs and cream is a weekday standby recipe in my house, usually served with eggs, made on the day I pick up fresh eggs and thick cream from an Amish farmer who delivers to my area. This variation, with butternut squash and buttered breadcrumbs, is much more interesting. If you don’t have Yukon Gold Potatoes, any potatoes will do, but a waxy potato works better. If you shy away from heavy cream and butter, plain milk or even broth may be substituted, and the butter cut in half, but the texture will be different and it won’t be as rich and flavorful. You skip either the cheese or the breadcrumbs, adding just the herbs with the one or the other, and Parmesan or Romano cheese is nice in it too. Sometimes I’ll add a few extremely thinly sliced onions, and if you don’t feel like layering it out, you can just throw the squash and potatoes in the pan with the herbs and salt and pepper, pour on the cream, cover, and proceed. This is good with chicken, pork or eggs. - SallyCan —SallyCan
Test Kitchen Notes
Make room at your next fall feast for SallyCan's twist on a traditional gratin. With creamy vegetables, savory herbs and classic autumnal colors, it's both delicious and pleasing to the eye. It comes out of the oven with crunchy homemade breadcrumbs atop a bubbling mixture of squash and potatoes. If you want to punch up the flavor, add some caramelized onions or garlic to the veggies. – Natalie —The Editors
4 – 6, can be halved or doubled
1 ½ lbs butternut squash (about ½ medium squash)
1 ½ lbs Yukon Gold potatoes (about 4 - 5 medium)
½ - ¾ c heavy cream
Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
3 -4 T finely chopped fresh sage leaves (about 10 or so)
2 T finely chopped fresh oregano
1 T finely chopped fresh thyme
4 T butter
About six ½” slices of stale French bread (or enough to make about 2 c crumbs)
¾ c gruyere cheese, grated fine
In This Recipe
Preheat oven to 375.
Butter a shallow baking dish or individual ramekins (if you use ramekins, cut the baking time in half, with a total of about 30 min)
Whir bread, crusts and all, in food processor to make coarse crumbs (or pull apart bread and chop it up with a knife if you like).
Finely chop sage, oregano and thyme, and mix together. Add 2 T herbs to bread crumbs, and reserve the rest for the squash and potatoes.
Prepare butternut squash: microwave for 30 seconds, cut off tough ends, and then slice lengthwise down center. Scoop out seeds and peel with a vegetable peeler or paring knife. Slice lengthwise again, and then thinly slice across the quartered squash, so that you have pieces that are about one or two inches across and between 1/8 and 1/16”, trying to keep them about the same thickness.
Peel potatoes, and, if they’re large, slice lengthwise in half before slicing them into slices between 1/8 and 1/16”, trying to keep them about the same thickness.
Place a layer of potatoes across bottom of buttered baking dish, overlapping pieces slightly, and covering the bottom of the dish entirely. Sprinkle lightly with some herbs and salt and pepper.
Place a layer of butternut squash on top of the potatoes, overlapping pieces slightly and covering potatoes entirely. Sprinkle lightly with some herbs and salt and pepper.
Repeat layers once or twice, seasoning lightly with herbs and salt and pepper, and keeping gratin fairly shallow.
Pour cream over all, making sure to cover bottom of pan with cream. If you’ve got really thick cream, just spoon it on top and it will melt down into the squash and potatoes.
Cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 – 40 minutes, until squash and potatoes begin to get soft but still resist when pierced with a fork.
Meanwhile, melt butter in large frying pan, letting it brown up a bit. Turn off heat, and add bread crumbs, mixing to coat them with the melted butter. Add a bit of salt and pepper to this too.
Remove foil from dish, and check to make sure that all of the cream hasn’t evaporated from the bottom of the dish. If it has, add a small amount of cream to just cover bottom of the dish. Cover the squash and potato layers first with the cheese, and then with breadcrumb mixture. Return to oven and bake for another 15 or 20 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are nicely browned and the butternut squash and potato gratin is soft. Serve hot.