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This recipe is adapted from J Kenji López-alt’s Hassleback Potato Gratin. A festive Halloween side dish that’s purple from purple potatoes, and extra-nutty in flavor from burdock root.
Ahhh, Halloween 🎃😈👹💀🦷🧟🕷🦇
It’s this time of year that I truly feel alive. The spooky decorations, the changing leaves, and of course, the funky seasonal food!
I love a good holiday to inspire my cooking, and Halloween is when I get a bit more theatrical. Like I can seriously imagine this bubbling purple gratin served at the Adams Family dinner table. Even burdock root, our funky ingredient, looks like a carrot risen from the dead. I first learned about burdock in a cookbook about root vegetables. It covers normal ones like beets and horseradish to the unheard-of, like crosne and salsify.
Burdock root is popular in Japanese cuisine and extremely valued for its health benefits. But for such a gnarly looking vegetable, its flavor is far more pleasant than you’d expect. Once washed, cut, and cooked, burdock root takes on an earthy, nutty flavor, sorta like a hybrid of carrot, radish, and potato.
This hassleback gratin recipe is a great way to experience burdock root, especially if it’s your first time. I find the potatoes act as a buffer against the uncertainty of trying this new vegetable.
It starts with thinly sliced purple potatoes and burdock root. You’ll need either a mandolin or a really good, sharp knife. My gorgeous new Kotai knife made the whole process effortless, not to mention ✨stylish✨. The sliced roots are then coated in cheesy cream and aligned in a baking dish accordion-style. The dish is baked until bubbly like a witch’s cauldron. For a more in-depth, science-backed recipe, see the original from Serious Eats.
Enjoy girls and ghouls!
What the Heck is Burdock Root?
Burdock is the root of a prickly-headed plant that inspired the creation of Velcro (no joke, check it out). The root is slender, firm, and can reach up to three feet long (almost as tall as me at 5 ft)!
Burdock root is a popular vegetable in East Asia. It’s been used in Chinese and Japanese medicine for centuries to treat sore throat, colds, and other illnesses. In Europe, a beverage made from fermented burdock root has been a popular drink since the middle ages. Today, burdock root is valued as both a tea and food with exceptional health benefits.
To learn more about cooking with burdock root, click here.
How to Cut Burdock Root (Video Tutorial)
How to Par-boil Burdock Root
Before using burdock root in this recipe, you need to par-boil it. Burdock flesh is hard and fibrous, so it needs to be tenderized. This extra step helps make it ready to absorb the flavor-rich gratin cream sauce.
- Kitchen preparation. Fill a large pot with water and a few drops of vinegar. Have a large bowl of ice water and strainer nearby.
- Prepare the burdock root. Cut a washed and unpeeled burdock root into slices on the diagonal. As soon as the burdock is cut, add it to the pot with water and vinegar.
- Boil the burdock root. Bring the pot of vinegar-water to a boil over high heat and cook until the burdock softens about, 5 minutes. Drain the burdock in the strainer and transfer to the ice water. Pat the burdock dry with paper towels. The burdock is now ready to use!
More Funky Halloween Recipes
Burdock Root & Purple Potato Gratin
SERVES: 2⎪ DIFFICULTY: Advanced⎪ FUNK: Moderate
Mise en Place
- Unsalted butter, for greasing
- 1 oz shredded Gruyere cheese, plus more for topping
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- Salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 8 oz burdock root (gobo), thinly sliced on the diagonal
- 8 oz purple potato, thinly sliced on the diagonal
COOKS NOTE Depending on the size of potatoes and burdock you use, you may need more to fill your baking dish. Buy a few extra potatoes and burdock to fill the dish if needed.
1. PAR-BOIL THE BURDOCK ROOT
Fill a large pot with water and 1 few drops of vinegar. Have a large bowl of ice water and strainer nearby. Cut the washed and unpeeled burdock root into slices on the diagonal. As soon as the burdock is cut, add it to the pot with water and vinegar. Bring the pot of vinegar-water to a boil over high heat and cook until the burdock softens, about 5 minutes. Drain the burdock in the strainer and transfer to the ice water. Pat the burdock dry with paper towels.
2. MAKE THE FILLING
Move the oven rack to the middle and preheat the oven to 400°F. Combine cheeses, cream, garlic, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Add burdock and potato slices and toss with your hands until every slice is coated. Separate any slices that stick together.
3. ARRANGE THE GRATIN
Grease a 6 x 6-inch casserole dish with butter. Take a handful of burdock and purple potatoes and arrange them in a stack so they alternate in color. Place them in the baking dish with their edges facing up like an accordion. Continue placing stacks of burdock and purple potato in the baking dish, working around the perimeter and into the center like a spiral. Pour the leftover cream mixture from the bowl over the burdock and potatoes.
4. BAKE THE GRATIN
Bake for 1 hour until the top is bubbling and golden brown. Remove from the oven and let rest for a few minutes then serve.
Black Garlic Variation: Omit the burdock and just use purple potatoes. In Step 2, whisk 1 minced black garlic clove in the cream, then add the cheese and thyme. Proceed with the recipe.
Did you make Burdock Root and Purple Potato Gratin? Let me know how it turned out and leave a comment below!