The dark days of winter call for food that is soothing as well as seasonal, so wherever you are in the world, I suggest you cosy up with this satisfying gratin when the weather takes a turn for the worst.

It is also a lovely thing to do when the days are short and gray; stay tranquil and stay in the kitchen, peeling and slicing and filling your home with delicious smells.

This is a simple homestyle French dish, very impressive and hugely delightful. When I’m in France, I like to make this to accompany a rotisserie chicken but it can also be a meal in itself or, if you like, add a hearty bottle of red, a cheese platter, crusty bread and a green salad for a feast. 

3 small turnips (about 375g), peeled, halved and very thinly sliced

½ a celeriac, peeled, halved and very thinly sliced

½ a swede, peeled, halved and very thinly sliced

650g waxy potatoes, peeled, halved and very thinly sliced

225ml double cream

100g crème fraiche or sour cream

250ml milk

125g Gruyère or similar, grated

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

A 30 x 20cm baking dish, very well buttered

Serves 4-6

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/375ºF.

Put all the prepared vegetable slices in a large bowl and toss gently to combine. Set aside.

Combine the cream, crème fraiche or sour cream and milk in a small saucepan and heat just to melt the crème fraiche or sour cream. Stir well and season with salt and pepper.

Arrange half of the vegetables slices in the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with a little salt and one-third of the cheese. Pour over one-third of the cream mixture. Top with the rest of the vegetables slices, the remaining cheese and a sprinkle of salt. 

Pour over the remaining cream mixture and cover the dish with foil or dampened baking parchment. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes. Remove the cover and return to the oven and cook until tender and well browned on top, 30-40 minutes more. Serve piping hot.

Photo: Martin Brigdale © Ryland Peters & Small

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