This beet and carrot vegetable gratin recipe is great for those days when the universe has run you over with a Mack Truck, when you want nothing but a blanket of cream and cheese to swaddle you into food coma bliss. There’s a reason we want rich comfort foods when we’re feeling down — fat is nature’s Valium. When you’ve completely stunted the productivity of your adrenal system with a massive amount of fat, it’s difficult to get excited or upset. You just want to lay around on the coach watching reruns of Friends and The Office. And hey, that’s way better than wanting to jump off a bridge or punch someone in the throat, right? Because those things require energy, energy that you will have conveniently diverted to digesting all that cream and cheese.
Funny how that works, eh? And you don’t even need a prescription for gratin.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that the way that an adult feels pain is very different from the way that a child, or adolescent, feels pain. It appears that now, instead of the stabbing feeling in my chest that I felt when I received my first heartbreak, emotions have moved south slightly, to my stomach. No longer is hurt manifested in a huge gaping chest wound, but rather a dull, nagging ache in the pit of my abdomen.
Maybe this would account for the digestive problems that adults experience after their mid 20’s. Lactose intolerance? Nope. That sudden nausea you woke up with isn’t last night’s baked ziti. It’s the fact that your heart seems to have transplanted itself into your large intestine.
I’m fortunate enough to have adopted an optimistic attitude early in life, and while the world loves to dole out pain and difficulty, I make it a point to try and find the lessons within the miasma. I’m of the firm belief that every situation holds in its possession a valuable lesson to be learned, and a true tragedy denotes a negative situation from which nothing positive was salvaged from the ashes.
Recently, I found myself smack in the middle of a sad, frustrating situation. After a few rounds of the obnoxious self-pity game, my head cracked open like an egg and I came to the following conclusion:
Sometimes a person shows up in your life and you think, “Wow, I’m really glad to have met you.” Sometimes a person shows up in your life and you think, “Why are you here? Is your presence meant only to hurt me?”
Then at some point you realize that everything happens for a reason, that all people are here for a reason. Every experience is meaningful. There is a purpose to every single moment in life, good and bad, and sometimes the purpose of this painful moment is to remind you that you are still very much alive. That the hurt is real, and for that you should be thankful.
Because even moments like right now will be beautiful when you’ve got very few left.
- 1 tablespoon duck fat (or butter)
- 3 large beets, peeled and stems removed
- 2 large carrots
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 cups milk
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 clove garlic, diced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 4-6 drops black truffle oil (optional)
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan or pecorino romano
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a gratin dish with the duck fat or butter.
- Slice the beets into 1/2″ slices, then cut those slices into quarters. Cut the carrots into 1/2″ rounds. Spread them into the gratin dish and set aside.
- Beat together cream, milk, flour, garlic, salt, pepper, and truffle oil in a small bowl. Pour over beets and carrots, then cover with foil.
- Bake for 30 minutes, then remove foil and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the top starts bubbling vigorously and turning brown. Layer the top with grated cheese and bake for 3 to 5 more minutes, until the cheese is golden and bubbly. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
If you like this beet and carrot vegetable gratin recipe, you might be interested in the following resources:
- An excellent cookbook based entirely on root vegetables: Roots: The Definitive Compendium with more than 225 Recipes
- Advice on buying and storing root vegetables.
- A handful of tips on how to fix and prevent a broken gratin.