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While turkey often takes centre stage at Christmas, the side dishes are just as important. And on an episode of Mad Genius, Food & Wine Culinary Director at Large Justin Chapple prepares a real showstopper – creamy Swiss chard gratin with crispy gnocchi.

He explains that the dish is a riff on two of his favourite side dishes, creamed spinach and potato gratin. Swap the spinach for Swiss chard and sub in crisped gnocchi for potatoes and you end up with a rich, cheesy dish (thanks to Gruyère and Parmigiano-Reggiano) that comes together in just one hour and 20 minutes.

Read on for his step-by-step method so you can make this dreamy gnocchi dish at home too:

Prep the Swiss Chard

The first thing you need to do is remove the stems from your Swiss chard. Trim and toss the stem ends, and thinly slice the remaining stems. Slice the leaves into one-inch-thick strips as well. Take the prepared leaves and stems and blanch them in a large pot of boiling salted water for one to two minutes, stirring often, until the stems are crisp-tender and the leaves have wilted.

Then, drain the Swiss chard well and let it cool for 15 minutes. Before adding to the gratin sauce, squeeze it gently over the sink to remove excess liquid.

Crisp the Gnocchi

Next, it’s time to crisp the gnocchi. Wipe the Swiss chard pot clean and add the unsalted butter and extra-virgin olive oil, cooking over medium-high. Once the butter melts, add half of the prepared gnocchi (you don’t want to crowd the pot) and cook for five to seven minutes, turning occasionally, until they’re golden brown and crisp. Transfer the gnocchi to a baking sheet and repeat the process with the rest of the gnocchi. Once all of it is cooked and on the baking sheet, season them with salt and pepper and let them sit while you get started on the sauce.

Make the Sauce

The final component of this gratin is the creamy sauce. In the same pot, add the rest of the butter and olive oil and cook over medium, adding the thinly-sliced red onion when the butter has melted. Season it with salt and pepper and cook for about eight minutes until it’s softened and translucent. The all-purpose flour goes in next (make sure to cook out the flavour) followed by the whole milk. After the mixture has had some time to simmer and thicken, remove it from the heat and add in the grated Gruyère, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Dijon mustard, grated garlic, cayenne pepper, and ground nutmeg.

Assemble and Bake

Gnocchi
Credit: Photo by Christopher Testani / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Prissy Lee

Once the sauce is done, you can fold in the gnocchi and Swiss chard, giving a final season of salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into an 11- x 7-inch broiler-safe baking dish and then place that dish on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil to catch drips in the event that the gratin bubbles over. If you’d like, you can prepare the gratin up until this point and refrigerate it, covered, for up to four hours. Let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.

When ready to bake, get the gratin in a preheated 375°F (190 degrees Celsius) oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until it’s bubbling around the edges. To finish it off, turn the broiler on and give the gratin a quick blast for four minutes.

Enjoy

After the trip to the broiler, the gratin should emerge browned in spots. Although it’ll be tempting to grab a spoon and start eating right away, let it cool for five minutes first so it’s not quite so hot.

“I mean… I don’t know what to tell you,” he says after taking a bite. “You’re gonna freaking love this. That gnocchi is crispy on the outside. It’s poofy but a little chewy on the inside. That creamy Swiss chard has so much flavour. It’s got a little bit of heat from that cayenne. It is seriously rocking it.”

Get The Recipe

This story first appeared on www.foodandwine.com.

(Main and Feature Image Credit: Photo by Christopher Testani / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Prissy Lee)

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