Gratin de Courgettes

Courgette Gratin

How many vegetable gratins have we in our national cuisine? Well, there’s Cauliflower Cheese (hardly a triumph, I feel) and … could you call Pan Haggerty a gratin? Clearly we are not over-endowed with the things, which is why we seize on what the French do. This courgette gratin is superb served straight from the oven: the courgette tender but faintly crisp in an egg custard that is just set. A dish worth perfecting so that you don’t deprive yourself of the real joy of it.

Ingredients

  • about 250 g(8–9 oz) slim courgettes
  • a little fruity olive oil
  • 85 g(3 oz) Gruyère cheese, finely grated
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • salt
  • 30 g(1 oz) fresh white breadcrumbs

Method

Wipe the courgettes and remove the stem ends. Slice thinly and make a layer of the slices in the base of each of four lightly oiled small gratin dishes. Sprinkle the courgettes with a little cheese and make a further layer of courgettes.

Beat the eggs with the milk, using a fork with a clove of garlic impaled on its tines to flavour the mixture subtly – Escoffier’s trick. Season with just a little salt and stir in half the breadcrumbs.

Divide half the egg mixture between the dishes, sprinkle with a little more cheese and add a final layer of courgettes. Pour over the remaining egg mixture and sprinkle the rest of the cheese mixed with the rest of the breadcrumbs on top of each dish. Trickle a little olive oil over the top. Bake the dishes in a moderate oven (Mark 4, 180°C, 350°F) for 25–30 minutes. Serve straight away.

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