Easy Seafood Gratin

Easy seafood gratin is a slightly updated version of a favorite recipe in the 'soothing' chapter of my James Beard-nominated cookbook. It's also a two-fer since it includes a perfect bechamel recipe. When I was an art student, to make money I used to work at a French bistrot-style restaurant in my hometown, and this recipe is based on a favorite dish I sometimes was lucky enough to get to eat at the staff dinner after closing. Yes, it is comfort food,  I mean it includes mashed potatoes, but unlike the British nursery favorite, it's pretty sophisticated tasting and is the perfect dish to serve to fish skeptics. It may seem to have a lot of steps, but if you follow them as written in the recipe, everything will come together like clockwork. Enjoy!

AuthorAnn Gaffney
RatingDifficultyIntermediate

Easy seafood gratin is a slightly updated version of a favorite recipe in the 'soothing' chapter of my James Beard-nominated cookbook.

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Easy-Seafood-Gratin
Yields6 Servings
Prep Time30 minsCook Time30 minsTotal Time1 hr
 1 shallot, peeled and halved
 3 cloves garlic, smashed and skinned
 1 small fennel bulb, quartered
 2 bay leaves
 1 tsp black peppercorns
 2 medium Idaho or Russet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into a 1" dice
 sea salt to taste
 3 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
 ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
 2 tbsp all purpose flour
 1 ¼ cups whole milk
 ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
 ½ cup grated gruyere, divided (see Ann's Tips)
 1 ½ lbs flaky white fish
 ¾ lb medium shrimp, cleaned
 2 tbsp homemade breadcrumbs
1

Preheat the oven to 425F. Grease a 2-quart baking dish. Set aside

Make the poaching liquid and cook the potatoes:
2

Stud the shallot halves with 2 cloves each. Put them in a lidded saute pan over a medium-high flame with the fennel, garlic, peppercorns, bayleaf, and diced potatoes. Add enough cold water to cover the vegetables. Sprinkle with a little salt. Bring to a boil. Cover. Reduce the flame to low and cook at a gentle simmer until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon remove the potatoes into a bowl reserving the liquid and aromatics. Mash the potatoes, skins and all, with 1/2 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons of the parmesan. Set aside.

While the potatoes cook, make the sauce:
3

Melt the remaining 21/2 tablespoons of butter over a medium-high heat in a heavy saucepan. add the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until you smell a slightly toasty aroma. Gradually add the milk, whisking as you go until it is all in and the sauce has the consistency of heavy cream. Add the nutmeg, 2 tablespoons of Gruyere and the remaining Parmesan. Lower the heat to medium and cook stirring until the cheese has melted and the sauce is beginning to thicken, about 5 minutes. Take off the heat and set aside.

Cook the fish and assemble the gratin
4

Place the fish in the poaching liquid in a single layer. Add more water as needed to cover the fish. Over a low flame, bring to a low simmer - the liquid should be barely bubbling. Cover. and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the fish with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate. Add the shrimp and cook about 1 minute or until they just turn pink. Add to the fish on the plate.

5

Flake the fish, removing any skin or bones. Arrange the fish in the prepared baking disk and stud with the shrimp. Pour the reserved sauce over the fish. Top everything with the mashed potato. Sprinkle the top with the remaining gruyere and the breadcrumbs. Bake for around 20 m inutes in the center of the oven until the sauce is bubbling and the top is golden brown in spots. Serve immediately.

Ann's Tips
6

I find it a good idea to set the gratin on a half sheet lined with parchment to bake. The sauce can boil over so this saves cleaning the oven.
Although the recipe calls for Gruyere, Jarlsberg or any other mild, melty cheese will do.

Category, Cuisine, , , Cooking Method,

Ingredients

 1 shallot, peeled and halved
 3 cloves garlic, smashed and skinned
 1 small fennel bulb, quartered
 2 bay leaves
 1 tsp black peppercorns
 2 medium Idaho or Russet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into a 1" dice
 sea salt to taste
 3 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
 ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
 2 tbsp all purpose flour
 1 ¼ cups whole milk
 ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
 ½ cup grated gruyere, divided (see Ann's Tips)
 1 ½ lbs flaky white fish
 ¾ lb medium shrimp, cleaned
 2 tbsp homemade breadcrumbs

Directions

1

Preheat the oven to 425F. Grease a 2-quart baking dish. Set aside

Make the poaching liquid and cook the potatoes:
2

Stud the shallot halves with 2 cloves each. Put them in a lidded saute pan over a medium-high flame with the fennel, garlic, peppercorns, bayleaf, and diced potatoes. Add enough cold water to cover the vegetables. Sprinkle with a little salt. Bring to a boil. Cover. Reduce the flame to low and cook at a gentle simmer until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon remove the potatoes into a bowl reserving the liquid and aromatics. Mash the potatoes, skins and all, with 1/2 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons of the parmesan. Set aside.

While the potatoes cook, make the sauce:
3

Melt the remaining 21/2 tablespoons of butter over a medium-high heat in a heavy saucepan. add the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until you smell a slightly toasty aroma. Gradually add the milk, whisking as you go until it is all in and the sauce has the consistency of heavy cream. Add the nutmeg, 2 tablespoons of Gruyere and the remaining Parmesan. Lower the heat to medium and cook stirring until the cheese has melted and the sauce is beginning to thicken, about 5 minutes. Take off the heat and set aside.

Cook the fish and assemble the gratin
4

Place the fish in the poaching liquid in a single layer. Add more water as needed to cover the fish. Over a low flame, bring to a low simmer - the liquid should be barely bubbling. Cover. and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the fish with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate. Add the shrimp and cook about 1 minute or until they just turn pink. Add to the fish on the plate.

5

Flake the fish, removing any skin or bones. Arrange the fish in the prepared baking disk and stud with the shrimp. Pour the reserved sauce over the fish. Top everything with the mashed potato. Sprinkle the top with the remaining gruyere and the breadcrumbs. Bake for around 20 m inutes in the center of the oven until the sauce is bubbling and the top is golden brown in spots. Serve immediately.

Ann's Tips
6

I find it a good idea to set the gratin on a half sheet lined with parchment to bake. The sauce can boil over so this saves cleaning the oven.
Although the recipe calls for Gruyere, Jarlsberg or any other mild, melty cheese will do.

Easy Seafood Gratin

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