Pairings

Brioche, Fennel and Gruyere Gratin paired with a UK Pinot Meunier

pairings

Do you ever have a moment where everything just comes together and makes perfect sense? Well, my brioche, fennel and gruyere gratin is the product of a rather serendipitous occasion. I love making a traditional potato gratin with tons of oozy creamy cheese flavours; however, not everyone in my family is massive potato fan. So, while stuffing the Thanksgiving turkey this year with brioche stuffing, it dawned on me that I could just swap out the potatoes and use toasted Brioche cubes for my gratin recipe. Well, needless to say, this recipe made its debut! I love how versatile my brioche gratin is because you can personalise it so easily by adding your favourite ingredients. I recommend pairing this recipe with your favourite lighter red wine such as a Pinot Noir, Beaujolais Crus, or even my latest discovery…a still red Pinot Meunier.

Toasting the Brioche

Before you do anything, make sure you buy high quality loaf of brioche. Using brioche as the base for this gratin is a sneaky way of adding a bit more depth, sweetness and buttery goodness to the recipe. Don’t get me wrong, I love potatoes but sometimes they can be just a bit bland. I need some flavour!!!

brioche loaf
  • Set the oven to 200°C.
  • Begin by slicing the brioche loaf and then cutting it into cubes that are roughly 1-2cm wide.
  • Place the cubes on a baking tray and toast them in the oven for 1-2 minutes. Gently toss the cubes and return to the oven to toast for another 1-2 minutes. You want to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.
  • Once the brioche cubes are toasted, remove them and set them aside to cool.
  • Meanwhile, grease a baking dish and then add half the toasted brioche cubes.
  • Set the baking dish aside until the fennel sauce is ready.

Slicing, Grating and Smashing the Ingredients

It’s not everyday you get to slice, dice and smash your ingredients. You’re in luck because today’s the day!

Slicing the Fennel and Onion

  • Begin by slicing the fennel bulb. If you’ve never sliced fennel before, this may seem like a precarious endeavour. Actually, fennel is rather simple to cut, but you definitely need to know which bits to discard and which ones to save. Begin by chopping off the green stalks called the fronds. You can discard them or save them for another recipe. Next find the base of the fennel where the roots were cut off. You want to chop this section out, as it can be rather hard and difficult to chew. Next, slice the remaining bulb in half and then chop in to smaller, thin pieces.
  • Slice an onion and set it aside. You will add this later.
sliced onion

Grating the Gruyere Cheese

  • I love Gruyere cheese mainly because it offers a bit more nuttiness to the mixture and I’m always up for that! Make sure you grate the cheese before hand because you’ll need to add it quickly once you’re ready to assemble the gratin.

Smashing Some Hazelnuts

I told you we’re going to have some fun! Get a handful of hazelnuts. You can use any nuts, but I absolutely love Hazelnuts. They add an earthy, nutty flavour to the gratin and they remind me of Oregon. We actually call them Filberts!

  • Begin by grabbing a handful of Hazelnuts and place them into a plastic bag that you can seal shut.
  • Then place the bag of Hazelnuts onto a cutting board and smash them with a meat tenderiser.
  • Finally, you will have a crumbly mess of Hazelnuts. Set them aside for later.

Creating the Gratin Sauce

Now that you’ve sliced, grated and smashed your ingredients, have them nearby, as you’ll want to quickly add them to the mix!

  • Begin by melting the unsalted butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Add the fennel and sauté for about 2 minutes until it has slightly softened.
  • Add the sliced onion to the fennel and continue to sauté for another 2 minutes.
  • Then add the fresh thyme and the chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the crème fraiche and double cream. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and cook for another 5 minutes until it has slightly thickened.
  • Once the sauce has thickened, season it with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg.

Let the Layering Begin!

I honestly wish I had the time to spend painstakingly layering the potato slices for a gratin. Believe me, I’ve tried and get so frustrated with the amount of time it takes to arrange each slice in its correct and proper place. In my world, time is of the essence and hungry kids are calling. This brioche, fennel and Gruyere gratin is easy peasy to assemble and it looks ruggedly handsome when finished baking. I’m sure you’ll love it!

  • Begin by using a large serving spoon or ladle to pour half of the fennel gratin sauce over the toasted brioche cubes that are patiently waiting in your baking dish.
  • Next, sprinkle half the grated Gruyere and half the Hazelnuts on top. Then add a bit of salt and pepper. Repeat these steps to add one more layer, starting with the remaining brioche cubes.
  • Bake in the 200°C oven uncovered for 30 minutes. If it starts to brown too quickly, cover with aluminium foil and continue baking
  • Remove from the oven, cover with aluminium foil until ready to serve.

Serving

  • Serve this warm on its own or as a side. We often serve this with pork tenderloin.

Wine Pairing


Brioche, Fennel and Gruyere Gratin

Are you ready for an alternative to potato gratin? Look no further than my brioche, fennel and gruyere gratin paired with a UK Pinot Meunier.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Side Dish
Keyword: brioche, fennel, gratin, gruyere, pinot meunier
Servings: 6 people

Equipment

  • baking dish

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf Brioche
  • 2 sliced fennel bulbs
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 1 handful smashed Hazelnuts
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup Double cream
  • 1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • salt and pepper to season

Instructions

Toasting the Brioche

  • Set the oven to 200°C. Begin by slicing the brioche loaf and then cutting it into cubes that are roughly 1-2cm wide.
  • Place the cubes on a baking tray and toast them in the oven for 1-2 minutes. Gently toss the cubes and return to the oven to toast for another 1-2 minutes. You want to keep an eye on them so they don't burn.
  • Once the brioche cubes are toasted, remove them and set them aside to cool.
  • Meanwhile, grease a baking dish and then add half the toasted brioche cubes.
  • Set the baking dish aside until the fennel sauce is ready.

Slicing the Fennel and Onion

  • Slice the two fennel bulbs and set aside.
  • Slice one onion and set aside.

Smashing the Hazelnuts

  • Place a handful of hazelnuts in a sealed bag. Smash them with a meat tenderiser. Set aside

Grating the Gruyere Cheese

  • Grate the Gruyere cheese and set aside

Making the Gratin Sauce

  • Now that you've sliced, grated and smashed your ingredients, have them nearby, as you'll want to quickly add them to the mix!
  • Begin by melting the unsalted butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Add the fennel and sauté for about 2 minutes until it has slightly softened.
  • Add the sliced onion to the fennel and continue to sauté for another 2 minutes.
  • Then add the fresh thyme and the chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the crème fraiche and double cream. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and cook for another 5 minutes until it has slightly thickened.
  • Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg

Layering the Gratin

  • Begin by using a large serving spoon or ladle to pour half of the fennel gratin sauce over the toasted brioche cubes that are patiently waiting in your baking dish.
  • Next, sprinkle half the grated Gruyere and half the Hazelnuts on top. Then add a bit of salt and pepper. Repeat these steps to add one more layer, starting with the remaining brioche cubes.
  • Bake in the 200°C oven uncovered for 30 minutes. If the gratin starts to brown too quickly, cover with aluminium foil and continue baking.
  • Remove from the oven, cover with aluminium foil until ready to serve.

Serving

  • Serve this warm on its own or as a side dish. Serve with a glass of Pinot Noir, Beaujolais Crus or still red Pinot Meunier

Wine Pairing

  • Pair with a glass of still red Pinot Meunier.