Back in February I haphazardly sowed a handful purple top turnip seeds thinking nothing of it. Well now at the beginning of June I have turnips coming out my ears (yes they have lasted this long without bolting because it is has been cold, cold, cold here). Until this happened I had never even thought about what do with turnips! Through my research I found some interesting ideas but I have been wanting to make some au gratin potatoes for a while and the turnips sort of look like potatoes so I thought why not, let’s mix it up a bit. The turnips gave the potatoes a little bit of an edge, spicy but not overwhelming to the taste buds.
I just love au gratin. Growing up I used to eat those boxes of dehydrated potatoes all the time. In college I continued to eat them, but because I was without regulation and did not have to share, I would eat the whole box at once. The clear downside to that is that it was only an 8×8 panful. Today we are not eating processed foods as a habit, but I still crave au gratin potatoes. The best part about this recipe is that it makes an entire 9×13 panful and it doesn’t have the weird dried cheese in it!
6 small turnips
3 Russet potatoes
3 T unsalted butter
3 T flour
2 C milk
1/2 t kosher salt
1/2 t pepper
1/2 t dried thyme, crushed
dash of cayenne pepper
2 C shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 400. Peel and sliced turnips into 1/8 inch thick disks. Wash potatoes and cut them into 1/8 inch thick disks as well. Spray a 9×13 inch baking disk with non-stick spray. Arrange on half of the potato disks, overlapping slightly, in the baking dish. Cover with half of the turnip disks.
In a large sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and combine into a smooth paste. Cook for 3 minutes. Add milk 1/2 cup at a time, combining thoroughly until all of the milk has been added. Increase heat to medium-high until the mixture bubbles, stirring frequently to avoid burning the milk. Add salt, pepper, thyme and cayenne. Reduce heat to medium and add one and a half cups of cheese, one handful at a time, stirring to melt and combine.
Add half of the cheese mixture to the baking dish. Layer the rest of the turnips and potatoes into the baking dish and top with the remaining cheese mixture. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of cheese and cover with tin foil. Bake for 75 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 15 minutes more.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.