There’s a scene in “Tombstone” when Doc Holliday says to his lady friend, “It’s true, you are a good woman. Then again, you may be the antichrist.” And that’s how I felt while I was making this Apple Onion Cheese Gratin. That it was either going to be surprisingly good or nasty enough to bring the End of Days.
Savory apple dishes are a little outside my wheelhouse. Here, if you see apples on the dinner table, they’ve most likely been cooked in butter and brown sugar. That’s not a complaint.
But my mind kept wandering back to this recipe until I finally had to try it. It’s a casserole for people who love contrasts – the sweetness of the apples and onions versus the sharp bite of the Cheddar cheese, the creaminess of the nutmeg-spiked roux versus the crunch of the chopped pecans and crispy bread crumbs.
Serve it as a main dish on Monday, then as a side on Tuesday, preferably next to a big pork chop. I don’t care what Peter Brady says. Applesauce is for people who don’t have teeth.
Apple Onion Cheese Gratin
Slightly adapted from “Moosewood Restaurant New Classics”
Serves 4 to 6
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Pinch of ground cloves
- 4 cups peeled, cored, and sliced apples
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2 cups grated Cheddar or Gruyere (or 1 cup each)
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil an 11 x 7-inch baking dish.
- In a small pot, scald the milk over medium heat, bringing it almost but not quite to a boil.
- In another small pot, melt the butter over medium heat and whisk in the flour.
- Slowly add the scalded milk to the flour, whisking continuously until the sauce starts to thicken. (Whisk slowly so you can feel the change in the sauce.)
- Add the nutmeg, salt, and cloves, and stir for about 4 minutes, until thick. Remove from the heat, and set aside.
- Spread the apples and onion evenly in the prepared dish.
- Sprinkle on the grated cheese, and pour the sauce over the top.
- Scatter on the pecans and bread crumbs (seasoned with 2 tablespoons brown sugar, if you like).
- Bake uncovered for 45 minutes, until the top is golden and crisp.Nutritional Info Per 6.5-Ounce Serving – 326 calories, 12.1g protein, 21.6g fat, 24.1g carbs, 3.9g fiber.