sweet potato, apple and bacon gratin
Scott and I have a weekend ritual. Either before or after a workout at the gym (sometimes instead of), we go to the green market in our area. It’s open every Saturday morning from October through April, otherwise known as “season”. Season in South Florida usually begins in October or November, and is usually sparked by a cold snap in other parts of the country. Severe ice storms and talk of snowmageddon sends folks searching for warmer weather en masse — often they come to South Florida. But I digress.
Located in the parking lot of an outdoor shopping promenade, vendors set up displays under moveable gazebos and do a brisk business. We try to get there early, so as not to miss anything really good — like limited quantities of zucchini squash blossoms.
There are all types of niche products sold here each weekend. You can find decadent cheesecakes, locally-sourced wild honey, hot empanadas, fresh florida seafood (think stone crabs, shrimp and grouper), beautiful flowers and orchids, unique artisanal pastas, hand- made mozzarella, burrata and ricotta, fragrant olive oils from greece and all nature of baked goods (both gluten-full and gluten-free). And of course, there are lots of fruits and veggies.
Of the 25-30 sellers each week, there are typically 4 or 5 farm stands. Some represent local agriculture, others, come from northern Florida to sell their harvest. For us, that means a constantly changing and varied selection of many different types of produce.
We enjoy meandering from booth to booth, eating with our eyes, sampling small bites here and there and chatting with the vendors. Because Scott and I go so often, we know many of the sellers and they advise us on produce that’s “at its peak”. While filling our shopping bags, we’ll discuss what to make with our purchases. — or more to the point — what we want to eat.
This gratin was inspired by the display of sweet potatoes and the pine-scented rosemary showcased on one particular Saturday. Scott (aka: the grill-master) brined and smoked some bone-in pork chops to go with it and — wow!
A delicate, sweet and savory side with a nutty crunch!
- 4 medium sweet potatoes peeled
- 1 medium white onion peeled
- 1 large granny smith apple peeled and cored
- 6 slices bacon cooked, crumbled
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup gruyere cheese grated
- 1 tablespoon butter diced
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray an 8-inch square glass baking dish with vegetable spray, set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine the cream, rosemary, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, until cream is infused with the other ingredients, about 5-7 minutes. Set aside.
Very thinly slice the sweet potatoes, onions, and apple. (To make quick work of this step, I used a mandoline but you can also use the slicing attachment on a food processor.)
In the baking dish, sprinkle a about one-third of the onions. Arrange one-quarter of the sweet potatoes in an even layer over the onions. Drizzle two and a half tablespoons of rosemary cream over potatoes. Evenly arrange one-third of apples over sweet potatoes and top with a third of the bacon. Repeat layering two more times and finish the final layer with remaining sweet potato, gruyere and rosemary cream.
Dot the gratin evenly with butter.
Bake for 30 minutes and reduce temperature to 350. Continue baking for an additional 20-30 minutes or until potatoes are tender and top layer is browned and crusty.
There really isn't much cream in this recipe, so don't be compelled to completely cover each layer with rosemary cream. A few tablespoons will do the job.