Potatoes and juicy pears make a great seasonal duet for a casserole gratin especially when topped with nutty, buttery swiss cheese, crispy pan fried smoked ham, fresh chives and sprinkled with fragrant fennel seeds.
Paired with a simple crisp side salad, this flavor packed casserole is hearty enough to serve as a main dish for dinner and is a great fall brunch option.
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Yield: serves 8Ingredients:
- 2 lbs medium sized red or yellow potatoes
- 4 ripe but firm fresh pears
- 1 small bundle of fresh chives (about 1/3 cup when chopped)
- 8 oz swiss, gouda or gruyere cheese
- 4 oz smoked ham
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- Place the potatoes in a large pot of water, add 2 teaspoons salt and a pinch of sugar. Bring the potatoes to a boil and cook until they soften (about 20 minutes.) You should be able to easily run a fork through them but the potatoes should not be so soft, that they fall apart when pierced. They need to be firm for slicing and further baking.
- While the potatoes are cooking, wash the fresh pears and pat them dry. Cut each into quarters and remove the core. Cut each quarter section in half.
- Wash the fresh chives and pat them dry. Chop the chives into very small pieces.
- Cut the cheese into small pieces.
- Drain the boiled potatoes and rinse them in cool water. Use your fingers or a peeler to remove and discard the skins.
- Cut the potatoes lengthwise into quarters, then slice each quarter in half.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
- Roughly chop the smoked ham into small pieces.
- Place the ham in a dry frying pan and fry until the pieces just start to crisp. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Lay the potato and pear wedges into a 9 x12 casserole dish, alternating the potato and pear. Tuck the pieces of ham in between the potato and pear slices. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Evenly arrange the cheese pieces over the casserole, then sprinkle the fennel seeds over the top.
- Evenly scatter the chopped chives over the top.
- Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes until bubbling and slightly browned on top. Remove from the oven and serve immediately from the casserole dish.
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