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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Everything But The...Ruffoni Gratin Pan!

I have to confess that I'm cheating on Baby with an Italian: not just any Italian mind you, but the handsomely turned out, absolutely gorgeous hammered copper Italian Ruffoni Gratin Pan with brass acorn and oak leaf embellishments. We met at Williams-Sonoma several months ago and it was, at least for me, love at first sight. When at last I finally was able to take this beauty home, I couldn't wait to make wild, passionate Swiss Chard Gratin with it.

Swiss Chard Gratin
Adapted from Saveur, #88, November 2005
Any flamboyant sort of chard can be separated into two parts: the abundant leaves and the considerable stalks.
Start with the stalks: get about a pound of Swiss Chard (green, red, or rainbow), trim the ends and remove the stalks, cutting them into 3-inch pieces and boiling for a few minutes in a reliable pot with salted water and a few bay leaves. Drain into a colander.
Now, for the leafy greens: roll them up and cut thinly on the bias to make a chiffonade. Wilt in a large pan with at least two tablespoons olive oil and minced garlic. Add cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper to taste. With a slotted spoon, place into colander as well.
To make the bechamel sauce: in a heavy saucepan, stir a quarter cup flour into a melted stick of butter over a medium-low flame. Stir constantly for three minutes and increase heat to medium, whisking in two cups of cold milk, a little at a time to make a fine paste. Add salt! Pepper! And most importantly a lot of grated nutmeg! Whisk continually for 15 minutes and you'll have a greatly thickened, most virtuous sauce.
Put your chard leaves and stems into the gratin pan, cover with the bechamel sauce, add even more nutmeg, a whole lot of grated gruyere cheese and place in a 400 degree preheated oven. Bake until shimmering perfection is achieved, roughly 25 minutes.

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