Sake to Me

A gratin with a boozy kick
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Sake doesn't usually come to mind as an ingredient that goes into a gratin. Thinly sliced vegetables? Yes. An ample amount of shredded cheese? Most definitely. But rice-based alcohol? Well, the food at Dominique Macquet's new French-Vietnamese restaurant Tamarind is deliciously original, so it follows that the chef's decision to substitute sake for a gratin's traditional white wine is equally inspired. After incorporating an ample amount of Gruyère into the gratin, Macquet soaks the layers of thinly sliced celery root, rutabaga, potatoes and bok choy in a mixture of sake, cream and milk. The result is layers of colorful, tender vegetables in a flavorful, yet light, sauce.

Root Vegetable and Bok Choy Gratin

Recipe adapted from Dominique Macquet, Tamarind, New Orleans, LA

Yield: 8 servings

Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes plus overnight refrigeration


3 heads of baby bok choy--cleaned, leaves separated and tough stems discarded

½ cup dry sake

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

½ medium shallot, finely chopped

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves

½ cup whole milk

1½ cups heavy cream

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 medium celery root, peeled and thinly sliced into ¼-inch thick slices

2 medium rutabaga, peeled and thinly sliced into ¼-inch thick slices

4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced into ¼-inch thick slices

1 pound Gruyère cheese, finely grated


1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large bowl, prepare an ice bath and set aside.

2. Fill a medium stockpot set over high heat with heavily salted water. Bring to a rolling boil, then add the bok choy. Cook for 30 seconds until bright green and slightly softened. Remove the bok choy and submerge in the ice bath. Once cooled, pat the bok choy dry with a clean towel and set aside.

3. In a medium skillet set over medium heat, combine the sake, garlic, shallot and thyme. Reduce the mixture by half, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the milk, cream, salt and pepper and bring to a boil for 2 minutes.

4. In a 9-inch-by-13-inch casserole dish, layer half of the celery root, rutabaga, potato, and reserved bok choy. Sprinkle with half of the Gruyère cheese. Repeat the a second time, finishing with the cheese. Pour the cream mixture over the top and cover the pan with foil. Bake until the gratin is set, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Uncover the dish and bake until the top is golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes more.

5. Remove the gratin from the pan and let cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. To serve, preheat the oven to 375°. Cut the gratin into squares and place on a sheet tray in the oven until heated through, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve hot.

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