Wednesday, September 25, 2013

cauliflower butternut squash gratin with turkey meatballs

Give me comfort. Give me Autumn. Give me BALLS. That was my thought process on this recipe. And it satisfied all three of these criteria. Savor the scent of sage and roasting vegetables. Get cozy with the comfort of creaminess. Eat this with the windows open so you can feel the cool air and smell the falling leaves. Welcome the seasonal change with an open casserole dish!

Cauliflower Butternut Squash Gratin with Turkey Sage Meatballs

For the meatballs:
-1.5 lbs. ground turkey
-1 egg
-1 cup panko breadcrumbs
-1/2 teaspoon dried sage
-1/2 teaspoon tried thyme
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1/4 teaspoon white pepper
-salt and pepper to taste

For the Gratin:
-4 slices bacon, cut into bite-size pieces
-1/2 cup all purpose flour
-8 oz. chvre (soft goat cheese)
-2 cups heavy cream
-1 cup buttermilk
-6 or 7 fresh sage leaves, chopped
-1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
-1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
salt and pepper to taste
-1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
-1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
-olive oil to drizzle/spray

Make the meatballs first: combine all the meatball ingredients well with your hands and form into 1-inch balls. Set aside.

Cook the bacon until just crispy. Remove from pan, leaving the bacon grease. Cook the meatballs in the bacon grease in 2 batches until browned on all sides (they don't necessarily need to be cooked through at this point. Put all the meatballs back into the pan and sprinkle the flour over them. Toss to coat the meatballs. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Heat the cream and buttermilk over low heat in a sauce pan. crumble up the chevre and add it. Add the fresh sage. Stir until the cheese is melted, without letting it come to a simmer.

Combine the bread crumbs and parmesan. Set aside.

Arrange the cauliflower, squash, bacon pieces and meatballs in a large casserole dish or 2 smaller ones so everything is evenly distributed. Pour the cream and cheese mixture over the veggies and meatballs. Bake for about 40 minutes, adding the bread crumb mixture and drizzle with olive oil to the top after 15 minutes. When the topping is golden brown and the casserole is bubbling evenly, remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes before serving.

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