I love camping, and I love cooking. And we all know I love cast iron cookware!
On a June 2016 camping trip – at Frontenac State Park – I brought along a Griswold no. 10 cast iron camp oven / chuckwagon, and made a tasty side dish for the twelve tent campers we had along. Our group typically has a big pot luck supper on Saturday nights. Since we are all a group of “foodies,” it is fun to try something new and hope that the group will applaud.
Applaud, they did. With help from my friends, we made a wonderful root vegetable gratin. The recipe was adapted a bit from one I found somewhere on the wild, wild web.
Here’s how I did it!
Root Vegetable Gratin
Recipe said it serves 8; it served 12 with leftovers for the next morning’s breakfast hash.
- 4 T unsalted butter, divided
- 1.5 c. Panko breadcrumbs
- 1.5 c. shredded parmesan
- 6 or so sprigs thyme, plus 1 T leaves
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 c. heavy cream (I used 2 c. heavy cream and 1 c. half and half)
- 1 c chicken broth
- 1.5 lb hunk of celery root, peeled and sliced 1/16″ thick
- 1 lb hunk of rutabaga, peeled and sliced 1/16″ thick
- 2 peeled sweet potatoes, sliced 1/16″ thick
- 1 lb yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/16″ thick
- Pam vegetable oil spray
- hunk of parchment paper
Day before preparation:
- Melt 2 T butter in size 8 cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs. Stir until golden brown; 5-7 minutes. Let cool.
- Mix cooled breadcrumbs with 1/2 c. parmesan and 1 T thyme leaves. Season with salt and pepper. Place in quart-sized zip-lock bag and set aside.
- Peel the vegetables. Using a mandoline, slice into even 1/16″ slices. Place all slices in large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Toss.
- Bring cream, broth, thyme sprigs, and remaining 2T butter to simmer in skillet or camp oven. Remove from heat. Discard thyme. Cover and keep warm.
- Take about 24 charcoal briquettes and light; cook til ashy grey.
- Spray inside of camp oven with Pam.
- Arrange 1/3 of the veggies in camp oven. Cover with 1/2 c. parmesan. Repeat layers. Top with vegetables. Pour cream mixture over the vegetables. Place a piece of parchment paper directly over the vegetables. Cover.
- Original recipe called for 50-60 minutes of cooking in a 350 degree oven. I used 18 briquettes on top and 6 underneath, in an effort to replicate the temperature charts I’ve found online (one is here).
- Every 15 minutes, turn lid 45 degrees. Turn pot 45 degrees. The goal is to avoid hot spots as possible.
- As the charcoal wears thin, add more.
- After about an hour, remove cover and parchment paper. Scatter breadcrumbs on top of potatoes. Re-cover. Bake additional 15-20 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.
Scoop up and enjoy! The dish received rave reviews from our hungry campers.