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Gratin, the word for me conjures up memories of rustic comfort food, a ceramic casserole dish brought to the table family style with silky potatoes tucked under a canopy of crispy, golden goodness, oh my!
A look at the culinary origins of this dish reveals ‘gratin’ is a term used rather loosely to describe a technique originating in French cuisine in which a dish is topped with a browned crust, usually involving melted cheese, breadcrumbs, and butter.
The “Upper Crust”
The terminology is derived from the French words “gratter,” meaning to grate (cheese, breadcrumbs), and the term “le gratin” signifies the upper crust of Parisian society. How fitting a name for the upper crust of such a noble dish!
One of my most favorite renditions of this dish is my version of “pommes de terre gratinées” or potatoes with cheese, made with creamy white sweet potatoes, accompanied with braised leeks and complimented with aromatic licorice-y fennel.
In my family, when the gratin hits the table, everyone goes for that oh so yummy crunchy topping. My solution to add to the joy is to stack the potatoes upright in a zig-zag pattern, held up by the leeks and fennel between the slices. Slow baked, the result is creamy, melting soft sweet potato on the bottom and oodles of golden yumminess on top!
Sweet Potato, the Powerhouse Staple
A little less sweet and slightly starchier than their orange fleshed sisters, the white sweet potato is a good stand-in for the regular white potatoes and are wonderful baked or roasted.
A nutrition powerhouse brimming with vitamins A, potassium, vitamin C, calcium, and magnesium to boot, sweet potatoes have rightfully so earned their spot as a staple on the healthy plate. So much so that consumption of sweet potatoes has swelled by a steady 6% per year since 2000!
You can read more of the different types of sweet potatoes and their uses here.
I do hope you try this wonderful dish, the perfect addition to your Easter table or any time of year.
Coupons and Freebies for Scalloped Sweet Potato Gratin Ingredients
I am always asked about my favorite ingredients and what I use in my own kitchen. I have linked to the products from my affiliate partners that I personally use and recommend. All funds earned go to help support the maintenance of this site and free content. You can view it like leaving a tip. Thank you! 🙂 And now, here are the special coupon offers that select affiliate partners are currently offering:
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Amazon, of course, has everything you need for this recipe. Their prices are often very good, though I love to shop around and sometimes find that Vitacost and Thrive Market have better deals. If you like saving money, it's good to shop around! 🙂
I get all of my herbs and spices from Mountain Rose Herbs. I have tried so many other brands and have never found the quality, flavor, and aroma to be as good as the herbs I get from Mountain Rose.
Scalloped Sweet Potato Gratin with Braised Leeks & Fennel
- 3 lbs white sweet potatoes (about 3 large)
- 1 cup fennel, ¼” slice
- 4 stalks leek, washed and diagonal sliced, 1”
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1 cup raw cream
- ½ cup chicken broth (or make your own)
- 3 tablespoons butter or ghee
- ¾ cup grated semi-firm cheese such as Asiago, Gruyere or Swiss
- ¾ cup grated semi-soft cheese such as Mozzarella, Havarti or Fontina
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano Cheese
- Prepare the leeks: Cut off the root end and slice ¾ “ diagonal slices, discarding the dark green part. Place the leeks in a deep dish of water and work all the dirt out, keeping the slices intact. Drain and set aside.
- Discard the green fibrous stalks and hard inner core of the fennel, and slice into ¼ inch pieces.
- Peel the white sweet potatoes while periodically dipping in water to prevent oxidizing. Slice in ½ “ slices and hold in water.
- Preheat the oven to 400F and brush an 8 x 10” casserole or gratin dish with butter or ghee, set aside.
- Place a large saute pan over medium heat, add a tablespoon of butter or ghee and add the fennel and leeks. Saute, careful not to burn, until the leeks have some color, 8 to 10 minutes, adding the garlic and seasonings halfway through.
- Deglaze with the broth, place a lid on the pan, turn the heat down low and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
- Begin assembling the dish: stack the sweet potatoes standing up in a zig zag pattern alternating the small and large pieces.
- Place pieces of leek and fennel between the slices, pushing them down to hold the slices up.
- Pour the raw cream over the potatoes and brush to make sure all parts received the cream.
- Cover with parchment paper, and then foil. Place the dish on a sheet pan in case of spillage, and place in the oven for 45 minutes.
- Take out of the oven, remove the foil, and sprinkle with the cheese.
- Return to the oven and bake uncovered until the potatoes are fork tender and the cheese is golden and bubbly.
- When this dish comes out of the oven, it will look very watery. But, as it cools slightly and sets, the sweet potatoes should absorb the liquid again.
- Cooking times will vary depending on the starchiness of the potatoes, dish used, and oven.
- For my dish, I used a combination of Asiago, Harvarti, and Parmesan cheese.