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Potato & butternut squash gratin with pasilla chili

4 large potatoes
1 small butternut squash
1/4 cup butter
1 large onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp. Pasilla chili powder (available in Mexican section of grocery store or at specialty stores)
salt and pepper, to taste
3 cups heavy cream

Preheat your oven to 275 degrees F. Butter an 8 x 8-inch baking pan. Peel the potatoes and set them in a bowl of water to prevent browning. Now pat one potato dry and slice it as thin as possible. Place the potato slices in a large bowl and sprinkle them with a pinch of salt; toss them in the bowl and repeat with the remaining potatoes. Set all sliced potatoes aside and prepare remaining ingredients.

In a small saucepan gently heat the cream with one tablespoon of the chili powder; remove from heat and allow to steep for a few minutes. Peel and seed the butternut squash. Thinly slice the squash to yield 1 1/2 cups; set aside. Melt butter in a sauté pan over high heat. Add onion slices and sauté until they begin to brown; add garlic and remaining chili powder, sauté a minute or two longer and remove from heat.

Begin to assemble the gratin: Remove a handful of sliced potatoes and squeeze them to remove excess water. Continue with half of the potatoes and place them evenly over the bottom of the gratin dish. Now arrange all of the squash slices over the potatoes and the onion mixture over the squash slices. Squeeze the remaining potatoes and carefully arrange them so they completely cover the top of the gratin. Add a pinch of salt and some black pepper to the cream mixture and carefully pour the warm cream over the gratin. The cream should cover the potatoes. Place the gratin in the preheated oven and bake 2 to 2 1/2 hours; the gratin is done when the cream has reduced and formed a golden crust on the potatoes and the potatoes are tender when a knife is inserted into the center of the gratin. Allow gratin to rest for 10 minutes or so and then cut into squares. Serve hot. Makes approximately 8 servings.

*Helpful hints from Chef Kristine: This dish does take some time to prepare, but the results are worth it! Trying to rush the gratin along will only result in poor quality and possible burning on top, trust me! Serve this gratin as a delicious accompaniment to your favorite grilled steak and a South of the Border salad of corn, tomatoes and peppers. Bon Appetit!

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