According to the University of Georgia’s horticulture-department Website, turnips “require a cold damp climate to reach perfection.” Maybe that’s why we always picture them as the perennial plat du jour in some bleak Dickensian orphanage. But the cruciferous vegetable is actually somewhat sweet and crisp, with a decent amount of fiber and vitamin C, and since it keeps well, it’s one of the last holdouts at the winter Greenmarket. If there’s anything that can change the root’s spartan image, it’s cream and butter, and lots of it, as in this luxurious gratin from Chanterelle chef-owner David Waltuck.
David Waltuck’s Turnip-and-Potato Gratin
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled
2 medium turnips, peeled
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup heavy cream
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
4 teaspoons butter
Preheat oven to 375. (1) Slice potatoes and turnips in 1/8-inch rounds with a mandoline or by hand. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, combine milk, heavy cream, and garlic. Bring to a boil and then turn off heat, letting garlic steep for at least 5 minutes. In a mixing bowl, combine potatoes, turnips, and salt and pepper to taste. Coat the bottom and sides of four ceramic ramekins (one-cup soufflé dishes) with ˝ teaspoon butter each. (A large baking dish may be substituted.) (2) Layer turnips and potatoes in each ramekin until halfway full. Strain garlic from milk-and-cream mixture. (3) Fill each ramekin with the strained liquid almost to the top and distribute a dollop of the remaining butter evenly atop each. Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and the liquid almost entirely absorbed. Serve in ramekins or removed, but do not invert. The gratin may be made in advance and reheated before serving, ideally with a simply dressed green salad.