Sometimes I get the feeling that food fate exists, as if there are just things we are destined to eat. Upon my first bite of this dish, I am even more confident in that belief. Why, you ask? Let me tell you a little story. I am a hoarder of recipes, a collector of torn pages from numerous food-related magazines which are then lovingly organized in one of ten different folders I keep by my couch. I like to go through them often, adding new recipes, reorganizing, maybe pulling out one or two to actually make over the weekend. It’s a sickness, I know. I grapple with that daily. And yet, I can’t stop.
Recently, in an effort to un-hoard, I have been trying to either throw out recipes I know (deep in my heart) that I will never make. Or, better yet, trying to resist tearing them out in the first place if I feel even the slightest bit “meh” about them.
And so as delicious as this Tomato and Swiss Chard Gratin sounded, I was hesitant. With all the wonderful carb-loaded things I eventually want to make, would this actually ever be at the top of the list? Will I pass this recipe by to try out yet another macaroni and cheese instead? Would I ever feel the need to buy a bunch of fairly expensive things: plump beefsteak tomatoes, five pounds of Swiss chard and a nice Gruyère cheese just to bake a fancy casserole? Its chances were not looking good.
Three different times, I almost threw the magazine out with that page still inside. But finally about three weeks ago, in a fit of optimism, I yanked it out. Instantly I was annoyed with myself for adding another stack of paper to the already massive pile of recipes waiting to be filed away in their respective folders.
(Oh god, I’m practically begging someone to plan an intervention for me.)
Anyways here’s the shocking news: within two weeks, I had made it! And in not-so-shocking news, it was freakin’ amazing. Like, so unbelievably good. Yes, this is the dish I referenced in my Cider Press post, the dish that was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. The bread became almost like custard, the chard and onions added depth, the tomatoes kept it moist and the cheese was (of course) sublime.
I am already dying to make it again. In fact, I’m dreaming about this instead of stuffing to go with my turkey at Thanksgiving…or maybe with leftover turkey layered inside? The possibilities are endless.
Here’s some in-the-making pictures to hopefully make your mouth water…
After everything is loaded up and the hot chicken stock is poured over it, it just needs to bake for about an hour. And the whole time it’s cooking, it will smell fantastic. Then when you peeled back the foil, you will most likely be overwhelmed with excitement because it will look like this:
Right? Tell me that doesn’t look incredible! Tell me that you are gathering yourself up for a trip to the store for five pounds of Swiss chard so you can make this immediately!
Oh, but before you leave, I’ll let you in on a few things I different. Manchego worked fantastically well in this dish, it’s a firm nutty cheese and I love it even more than Gruyère so I gave it a whirl. This was my only real substitution in this recipe. I guess you could say something about my tomatoes too — they were plum tomatoes grown by my friend DB. They weren’t as juicy as a beefsteak would be but they were so perfectly ripe that their intense tomato flavor carried through everything else.
And, a bonus tidbit! I did all the prep and layered everything together (stopping before adding the chicken stock) and let it sit overnight in the fridge. The next day I let it temper for about an hour, heated the stock and popped it in the oven. This way the timeline seemed briefer — not that it takes forever, but considering I was doing party planning too it was nice to have one less thing to worry about.
So there you have it, folks. Photographic proof that sometimes the recipe that’s been haunting you just needs to be made! Who knows what greatness you could be missing out on?