Monday, December 2, 2013

How Corningware Saved Thanksgiving - Cauliflower and Chestnut au Gratin

OK, so I have a confession to make.  Well, it's more about a family member than about me.  My mother HATES Blue Cornflower.  Oh, she LOVES Corning Ware, but hates that flower. 

She received it for her wedding back int he 60s and used it ALL while I was growing up.  I suppose after staring at it for 40 years, I can understand why she would not particularly care to look at it anymore.  The bonus to this tale is that, as of 5 years ago, *I* have her wedding Corning Ware and she has a new pattern... Shadow Iris.

Flash to the Thanksgiving day table (5 years later) and honestly, neither pattern works with mom's dinner service.... which is Furnival's Quail in brown.   But never fear!  Corning Ware French White II to the Rescue!

My French White II came in very handy this year, since I was suppose to make the Cauliflower and Chestnut au Gratin, and my P-21 Cornflower 13x9 roaster was banned from the table.  My F-21 roaster, which is my "it matches everything" dish, is the newer "21-N" model with the modified dimensions of 10 1/2 x 14 1/4, so it's a little too big (4.5 liter).  The ratio of crusty goodness and cheesy cauliflower is thrown off when you use to big of a pan cause there isn't enough bread crumb to properly cover the top.  I probably could have gotten away with the 2.8 liter (F-2), but it's only 8 1/2 x 11 so you end up with to thick of a crusty topping.   The point is, the recipe is designed for a 13x9 pan, and the original Everyday Gourmet French White pieces of the F-series have weird dimensions.  Sadly, I do not own a W-21... at least not yet.  I probably could have gotten away with a Wheat Design in Brown.  (sigh)  Some day.

That is why I am SO thankful that I have that weirdly shaped French White II at my disposal this year.  It really came through in a pinch.  It goes with everything, just like the original French White, but has the same dimensions as the P-21 & A-21 (13x9).

Ya know what?  Even though the Cornflower was banned from the table, that didn't mean that I could not use it in the cooking process.

That way Cornflower could be there in spirit.   :-)

Cauliflower & Chestnut au Gratin

1 3/4 lb Cauliflower florets, cut into bite sized pieces (or combination of Purple, Green or Orange Cauliflower)
12 Roasted Chestnuts, chopped
4 cups Heavy Cream
2.6 oz (3/4 cup) Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
1/2 tsp Thyme, chopped
8 oz  fresh French baguette, torn into 2-inch pieces
2 TB Thyme leaves, chopped
1/4 cup Parsley, chopped
3 TB Chives, chopped
1 1/2 tsp Lemon Zest
1 clove Garlic, finely minced
~1 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
~3/4 tsp Black Pepper
4 oz (1/2 cup) (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, melted
~1 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
~1/2 tsp Black Pepper

Corningware French White II 3 quart Casserole (13x9) or other Corningware "13x9" such as P-21-B or A-21-B but not A-21-B-N (it has the same dimensions as the French White F-21 and it's too big)
4 quart Dutch Oven (P-84-B)
1 pint Menuette saucepan (P-89-B) with lid (P-81-C)
~optional - Pyrex 4 Quart Cinderella Bowl (#444) or other large bowl

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and disassemble the cauliflower head into bite sized pieces...

In your 4 quart Dutch Oven (P-84-B), combine Cauliflower, Chestnuts, and Heavy Cream.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat;

Immediately reduce heat to low and simmer until Cauliflower is tender. (about 10 to 12 minutes)

Remove cauliflower and chestnuts from cream with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool. (I just put it in the 3 Quart Casserole Dish)

Add shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano and Thyme to the Cream and bring to a boil over medium flame.

Reduce heat to low and simmer until cream sauce reduces by half and thickens slightly, stirring occasionally. (about 15-20 minutes)

Meanwhile, it's time to make the bread crumb topping......

Tear the baguette into 2 inch pieces and place in the bowl of a food processor long with the Thyme, Chives, Lemon Zest, Garlic, Salt, and Pepper;

Process again, briefly...

Then add the Parsley and give it another blitz or two.

Pour the resulting herbed bread crumbs into a 4 quart Pyrex bowl (#444) and set aside.

Melt the Butter in a 1 1/2 pint Menuette saucepan (P-89-B) over low flame.

If it begins to sputter, cover with the lid (P-81-C)

When melted, drizzle the Butter over the herbed breadcrumbs and toss with a fork until the crumbs and herbs are evenly coated; set aside.

When the sauce is ready.....
Return cauliflower to Parmigiano-Reggiano Cream mixture and stir to coat well, then season with Salt and Pepper.

Spoon Cauliflower mixture evenly into your French White II 3 quart baking dish (or P-21/A-21) 9 x 13 baking dish.

Sprinkle evenly with the Breadcrumb mixture.

Move the baking dish to the oven and bake until topping is golden and sauce is bubbling. (about 4 to 5 minutes)

Serve warm. (Trust me, it doesn't really have a chance to get cold)

Where is your Corning Ware!!


  1. I was so surprised to find at a thrift store today a vintage Corning Ware baking dish (roaster?) that is, according to the engraved part under one of the handles "8 9 A" and under the other handle it says "A-P1-B-N" and it measures 12 1/4 x 10 1/2 (also engraved). The height is 2 1/2 inches. So perfect for some of my new favorites dishes to make: spanakopita, baklava and lasagna! This is just white -- no design is on it. Price was four dollars. YES....!

  2. P.S. On the engraved code number I just mentioned, it may NOT be a P. It looks like a question mark without the dot under it -- or possibly a 2, as in A-21-B-N. Ever heard of that?


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