Some foods are identified with specific regions of the world and it’s hard to think of them in any other light. For me, gratins fall into that category. I really think of them as a French food, though they probably exist in other cuisines. Perhaps because I’m not adept with French cuisine, I feel less able to mix and match ingredients to suit my taste, so I tend not to stray too far from the recipe.
Lately though, I’ve been in an experimental mood and my cooking has reflected my willingness to wing it – just ask my husband about the lasagna we had last night. So today, as I was browsing through some French-style recipes, I thought about the gratin and whether I wanted to tinker with it too. The fact that my fridge lacked swiss cheese of any kind led to me to throw caution to the wind. So a new gratin (to me) was born. I used baby red potatoes (unpeeled no less) and cheddar cheese, milk and sour cream. It’s in the oven right now, so I’ll have to update this post after dinner.
Right next to it on parchment sheets are ground pork meatballs. These too went through a transformation. I really steered far afield from the Italian recipe and added fish sauce, sweet red chili sauce and worcester sauce, plus a healthy dose of minced onion. These were inspired by some really great dim sum I had the other day.
So quasi-French-meets-West-coast-cheddar gratin and started-as-Italian-but-ended-up-Thai pork meatballs are on the menu. Finished off with an old-school apple crisp. Sounds like a recipe for a split personality, doesn’t it. Not to me. I like my food in the melting pot tradition. Sometimes it is nice to have a unified menu but more often than not, it is exciting to try tastes that don’t seem to suit each other, but miraculously do. Sometimes it is a bad call and sometimes it is a success. We’ll see what happens tonight.
Update: Meatballs were good but the gratin was just meh. Win some, lose some.