Your Life A to Z Recipe: Wednesday, November 26, 2014. Balsamic-Roasted Shallots and Autumn Root Vegetable Gratin with Herbs and Cheese

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Balsamic-Roasted Shallots

Serves 4 to 6
•    1pound shallots, the larger ones halved
•    2tablespoons olive oil
•    1tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons brown sugar
•    A three-finger pinch of salt
•    1tablespoon thyme, finely chopped, plus a few whole sprigs
•    2tablespoons sherry
•    1tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1.    Heat oven to 400° F.
2.    Put olive oil in an ovenproof skillet. (Alternatively, you can brown the shallots in whatever pan you like, and then transfer them into a baking dish).
3.    Add the brown sugar, mix to just combine, then add shallots, cut-side down if you've halved any. Brown over medium heat for 10 minutes, flipping once halfway through, or as soon as a beautiful brown crust has developed on the first side.
4.    Take the pan off of the heat, and add everything else -- salt, thyme, sherry, vinegar -- shake the pan a bit, and then cover with foil and roast in the oven until completely cooked through. Depending on the size of your shallots, this can take anywhere from 25 to 40 minutes -- test with a knife every 5 minutes beginning at the 25-minute mark.
5.    Serve warm.

Autumn Root Vegetable Gratin with Herbs and Cheese

Serves 6
•    1 1/2cups whole milk
•    2cloves garlic
•    Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
•    2tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
•    3/4pound butternut squash
•    3/4pound white potatoes
•    1/2pound parsnips
•    Salt and pepper
•    1/4teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
•    1/4teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
•    1cup grated Gruyère
•    1cup grated Pecorino
1.    Heat the oven to 400° F. Put the milk in a small heavy saucepan and peel and smash one of the garlic cloves. Add it to the milk and then heat the milk over low heat until it just starts to bubble at the edges. Remove from the heat, add the nutmeg and let steep while you continue with the recipe.
2.    Peel the second garlic clove, cut it in half and rub the cut side around the inside of a 6-cup baking dish no more than 2 inches deep. Rub 1 tablespoon of the oil all over the inside of the dish.
3.    Peel the squash, potatoes and parsnips and cut them into very thin slices (1/8-inch thick). If you have a mandoline, now's the time to use it.
4.    Layer the vegetables into the baking dish, alternating between squash, potato and parsnip, and fanning them into concentric, overlapping circles. Season generously with salt and pepper and sprinkle a third of the cheese and a third of the chopped herbs over the slices. Repeat twice, making the top layer as neat and tidy as you can.
5.    Remove the garlic clove from the hot milk and pour the milk evenly over the vegetables. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the top of the gratin and bake for about 50 minutes, until the top is browned and bubbly and the vegetables yield easily when you poke them with a sharp knife. If the vegetables are tender but the top isn't as brown as you'd like, turn on the broiler for a couple of minutes -- watch it carefully so it doesn't burn! Let the gratin cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.