This week started out with a great Italian ragu – but quickly turned back to some good old fashioned French Cooking!! (My favorite!) The other day I discovered an old favorite from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume II thanks to Food 52. I love Food 52 especially for their timely recipes. It is August in New England and zucchini is soooo plentiful around here! Thankfully, Food 52 posted Julia’s recipe for Tian de Courgettes au Riz which translates to Gratin of Zucchini, Rice & Onions with Cheese. How good does that sound!?
Whenever I make a Julia recipe, I really have to concentrate. I wanted to take photos, but it just did not happen. But I did come out with a most amazing zucchini gratin!! It was one of the best things I have eaten in recent and not so recent memory. It took a long while, but I hope when I make it again I can cut down on the time and be more organized and hopefully take a few photographs. If you love zucchini and parmesan cheese – MAKE THIS TODAY!
Julia Child’s Zucchini Gratin – Recipe Found on Food 52
About 2 pounds of Zucchini (I used four medium zucchini)
1/2 Cup plain, raw white rice (I used Jasmine rice because that is what I had on hand!)
1 Cup minced onions
3 – 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2-3 Large cloves of garlic, smashed & minced (I used 3 cloves because we love garlic!)
2 Tablespoons flour
About 2 1/2 cups of warm liquid – This is basically all of the zucchini juice you get from ringing out the zucchini and the rest milk and a tablespoon or two of cream is the mixture that I made!
2/3 Cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese
6 – 8 Cup flame proof baking and serving dish about 1 1/2 inches deep (I did not have this, so I made due with what I had on hand – it was fine!)
1. Cut off the ends of your zucchini and wash the zucchini thoroughly.
2. Grate your zucchini using a box grater.
3. For every two cups of grated zucchini, add one teaspoon of salt and mix together in a medium sized bowl. Transfer the zucchini into a colander and place the colander over your bowl. Let the zucchini drain for 4 minutes or so.
4. While the zucchini is draining, you want to quickly blanch your rice. Put rice in boiling and salted water for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
5. After zucchini has drained, squeeze a little bit dry and taste it. If it is too salty you can rinse some of the salt off. I didn’t add a whole lot of salt to my zucchini, so I was happy with the taste (in fact it tasted perfect to me and I ate a little more of it raw!) Continue to squeeze your zucchini over the bowl to drain your zucchini – you need to reserve this zucchini juice for later! Place the drained zucchini on paper towels to dry.
6. Heat up your large frying pan with 3 tablespoons of olive oil – have your pan on medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add your onion and cook for 8 – 10 minutes, the onion should be fully broken down, translucent and starting to brown.
7. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees
8. Stir in the zucchini and garlic. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes. Continually toss and turn, zucchini should be tender at the end of the 5 -6 minutes.
9. Sprinkle in the flour, raise heat slightly and cook for two minutes stirring so the flour is mixed well, and smooth. (No lumps please!)
10. Remove your pan from the heat and gently stir in the warm liquid (you can warm this liquid on your stove or you can warm it in the microwave – but you do not want this liquid hot, you don’t want your milk to curdle!)
11. Return to moderately high heat, bring to a simmer – stir constantly so milk doesn’t scorch on the bottom of your pan. After the mixture comes to a simmer, remove from heat again and mix in your rice and all but two tablespoons of the grated cheese.
12. Turn mixture into your buttered serving / baking dish. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons on top of mixture.
13. Place your dish in the upper 1/3 of your oven. Bake at 425 until the top of your gratin is browned, bubbling and it looks like the rice has absorbed most of the liquid. It will make your kitchen smell amazing!!
My end product was a huge hit at my house!
So, my gratin was not quite as browned as I had wanted – but two hours after starting this recipe I was so hungry. The rest of our dinner was ready to go, so I served up the gratin, too. I didn’t plan everything out perfectly – and my chicken breasts were cooking at 350 degrees for 35 minutes before I put the gratin in. Next time I’ll try to coordinate a little better!
I served chicken breast coked in white wine, lemon juice, rosemary & thyme with the gratin, as well as fresh and local tomato slices and rosemary bread. It was all so delicious – a go to dinner in our house from now on.
The next day we ate breakfast late – so it was more like a brunch. I made spinach and parmesan omelets with a side of gratin. Even though the omelet in this photo was not perfect, it was very well received:
The sous chef and I ate this gratin until it was gone. I cannot wait to make it again – it might seem like a lot of work, but trust me it is completely worth it!! Go ahead and try it! Happy cooking!