While you might think that a gratin has to have cheese, as the Accidental Locavore recently found out, it just means that it is topped with a browned crust. I was making the famous chicken from Judy Rodger’s The Zuni Café Cookbook and came across her recipe for a beef gratin or le Miroton, which she says is a French way to transform leftovers. Having some leftover roast beef, I thought this would be a good alternative to roast beef sandwiches (even on Tartine’s great bread, 2-3 days lunch is enough). Her recipe is per person, I doubled it to serve 2:
- 10 ounces leftover beef from Pot au Feu or short ribs, sliced ¼” thick
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound onions (about 4-5) sliced
- Salt & pepper
- 2 teaspoons flour
- 1 cup beef broth
- 2 small ripe tomatoes
For the topping:
- ½ cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- Splash of white wine
In a sauté pan that will hold the onions in a ½-1” layer, warm a splash of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and stir once or twice. Cook until they are colored slightly. Salt and stir again. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook until the onions are soft and silky, about 15 minutes.
Sprinkle the onions with the flour, stir and simmer until the juices have thickened. Stir in the broth and cook for a few minutes until you have a syrupy stew. Salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat the oven to 425°.
Slice off the ends of the tomato and slice ¼” thick. If the tomatoes are really wet, place between paper towels while you’re prepping the gratin.
Combine the topping ingredients in a small bowl and toss well.
Construct the gratin. In a shallow gratin pan lightly greased with olive oil, begin with a smear of the onions, then a layer of the meat, slightly overlapping. Spread with a thicker layer of onions, then the tomatoes. Repeat, ending with a Spartan layer of tomatoes. Tamp lightly to encourage the layers to sink into each other. It should be quite moist. If not, add a splash of broth or water. It will thicken during cooking and you want it have enough sauce.
Top with a thin layer of breadcrumbs (depending on the size of your dish, you may not need them all).
Bake until it bubbles at the edges and the topping is golden brown, about 15-30 minutes. Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: A great way to use any number of leftovers! Judy suggests that instead of the tomatoes, you could use truffles and I almost used some truffle paste I had, but decided not to go overboard. Mushrooms or potatoes would be fine – actually, you could just use whatever was kicking around the fridge. I ended up using red wine with the bread crumbs and other than having pink breadcrumbs, it didn’t seem to make a difference.