Georges Blanc’s pumpkin gratin
This recipe is ultra easy and rather quick — unless you wish to do it Georges Blanc’s way from beginning to end. He starts a day ahead of time, boils the pumpkin, places it in a colander over a plate, and allows it to drain overnight in the fridge to drain off the excess liquid accumulated by boiling. Being an everyday French chef with limited time in the kitchen, I simply steamed the pumpkin and made the dish right away. Steaming meant it did not accumulate a lot of excess liquid — and the recipe turned out fine.
You will need a small gratin dish for this recipe. The pumpkin should be weighed after the rind is removed, so buy enough to account for that. And regarding the nutmeg, if you don’t yet have a nutmeg grater, think about investing in one. The flavor of freshly grated nutmeg is incomparably superior to the stale ground nutmeg sold in tins or jars.
For a large crowd, double the recipe.
2 pounds (900 g.) pumpkin, rind removed
1 clove garlic
3/4 cup (30 cl) crème fraîche or heavy cream
1/4 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated nutmeg
2 ounces (60 g.) grated gruyère, comté or a similar cheese
Using a large sharp knife, slice the rind away from the pumpkin. Weigh the pumpkin pieces if you have a kitchen scale. Otherwise, you can calculate how much to buy at the market or grocery store by multiplying the quantity you plan to use by an additional 1/3 — that will be the weight of the rind.
Cut the pumpkin into large chunks and place in the basket of a steamer. Steam over boiling water for 20-30 minutes, until the chunks are very tender. Remove the pumpkin to a colander to let any excess liquid drain off.
Peel the garlic clove, slice in half, and rub one of the halves over the entire surface of your gratin dish. Discard the garlic.
Preheat the oven to gas mark 6 (400 F, 200 C).
Place the pumpkin in a large bowl. Crush it with a fork, not too finely for you want to retain some texture.
Add the seasonings — don’t be afraid to be generous with the pepper and nutmeg. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Add the cream and stir. Transfer to your gratin dish.
Grate the cheese and sprinkle it over the pumpkin.
Serve hot. Serves 4-5.