Chicken Gratin

In this decadent meal, tender chicken thighs and melted turnips and leeks are bathed in a velvety gratin sauce similar to fondue and topped with garlicky breadcrumbs. Sherry and Cognac sign up with forces to cut through the richness of the gratin while including a touch of nuttiness. Enable the delicious browned bits to build in the skillet as the chicken sears– these golden nuggets are essential to constructing the foundation of the cheese-laden sauce.

Frequently asked questions
What cheese should I utilize for this velvety chicken casserole?
For a more funky and pungent taste, try Gruyère cheese. For a more mild, buttery, and nutty flavor, select aged Gouda.

Why put breadcrumbs on chicken gratin?
The topping of breadcrumbs assists to offer a pleasantly crunchy contrast to the soft, creamy chicken gratin. Tossing the breadcrumbs with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper before baking infuses them with extra flavor.
Creamy Chicken and Root Vegetable Gratin
Keep in mind from the Food & Wine Test Kitchen
Our testers enjoyed this velvety chicken casserole served with a side of rice pilaf, though barley, farro, or orzo would be a nice complement, too.

Suggested pairing
A full-bodied, tasty white, such as Famille Perrin Réserve Côtes du Rhône Blanc, holds up to this hearty casserole while balancing its richness.

Ingredients
8 little boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 1/4 pounds).

1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste.

1 1/4 teaspoons black pepper, divided.

5 tablespoons saltless butter, divided.

2 medium (about 12-ounce) leeks.

5 garlic cloves, divided.

1 1/4 pounds turnips (about 3 medium turnips), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces.

2 tablespoons versatile flour.

1 cup chicken stock.

3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) Cognac.

2 tablespoons (1 ounce) dry sherry.

3/4 cup heavy cream.

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard.

1 1/2 teaspoons finely sliced fresh thyme, plus thyme sprigs for garnish.

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg.

5 ounces Gruyère or aged Gouda cheese, grated (about 1 1/4 cups).

3 tablespoons olive oil.

1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (from 1 small French bread loaf).
Instructions.
Working in batches if needed, prepare chicken, undisturbed, till well browned, about 10 minutes, changing heat as required to prevent browned bits in skillet from burning. Flip chicken; cook until no longer pink on the outdoors, about 1 minute. While chicken cooks, cut off and discard dark green parts from leeks.

Add turnips to frying pan, and spray with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook over medium, stirring sometimes, till turnip edges are browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer turnips to a large (2 1/2- to 3-quart) baking meal; reserved. Include leeks to skillet, and spray with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Prepare over medium, stirring often, till softened, about 3 minutes. Transfer leeks to baking dish with turnips. Do not clean frying pan clean.
Include remaining 2 tablespoons butter to skillet, and melt over medium. Include carefully sliced garlic; cook, stirring constantly, up until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add flour; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Stir in chicken stock, Cognac, and sherry. Give a simmer over medium, and stir utilizing a wood spoon to scrape up browned bits from bottom of frying pan. Stir in cream, mustard, chopped thyme, and nutmeg; simmer over medium, stirring periodically, up until sauce is somewhat thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Eliminate from heat. Season with additional salt to taste.

Set up chicken thighs over turnip-and-leek mixture in baking dish. Pour sauce evenly over mix; sprinkle with cheese.

Grate remaining 1 garlic clove into a medium bowl. Stir in oil. Include breadcrumbs, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper; toss to combine. Sprinkle equally over chicken mixture.
Bake in preheated oven, uncovered, till breadcrumbs turn dark amber brown, sauce bubbles in the center, and a thermometer placed in thickest part of chicken registers a minimum of 165 ° F, 30 to 40 minutes. Eliminate from oven, and let cool 5 minutes. Garnish with thyme sprigs, and serve.

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