Keto “Potatoes” Gratin – or rather – how I learned to love turnips. That’s right, turnips. This member of the radish family is as low carb as they come and are incredibly close to real potatoes in both texture and flavor when used in dishes. This recipe is both incredibly easy and absolutely delicious so much so that every time I’ve made it, everyone asks for seconds (and thirds, if there is any left).
Although I’ve used turnips as a potato replacement, like in the Caldo Gallego, I never thought I would use this little root for my favorite holiday side dish: “potatoes” au gratin. The incredible part is, I think it may actually be better than potatoes! Although there are a variety of ingredients such as jicama and rutabaga that are noteworthy – the turnips, really steal the show.
What’s the difference between scalloped potatoes and potatoes gratin? (or scalloped turnips vs turnips gratin)
Often times, these two terms get used interchangeably, but there is a difference: cheese. Potatoes gratin have cheese in the dish – usually between the layers and as a topping, whereas scalloped potatoes do not. That’s literally it. There is some slight nuance though – scalloped potatoes tend to be sliced a little thicker as opposed to au gratin, where we want to slice them super thin!
Do you really need a mandolin?
If you want superb turnips gratin – you need a mandolin. Mandolins will slice your turnip the same thickness all the time, every time. This is crucial as different thickness slices will lead to vastly different cook times, inconsistent texture, and just an overall unpleasantness to the dish. However, if you don’t have a mandolin and don’t care to purchase one, you can use a sharp knife and attempt to cut the slices the same thickness. Just be forewarned that it may not turn out as well… just know that I warned you.
Safety, safety, safety
It may seem like a joke, but mandolins are dangerous. Yes, dangerous. This seemingly dull blade attached to a board may seem the least threatening tool in your kitchen, but everyone I know – including myself – has sliced their finger when using a mandolin. *GRAPHIC WARNING* We all think we are kitchen superheroes until we’re trying to find the slice of our finger inside the potatoes and attempting not to get blood everywhere while holding your hand above your head to control the bleeding. It’s literally happened to everyone I know who has ever used a mandolin.
That said, I highly recommend you throw away whatever safety holder nonsense came with your mandolin and instead, purchase one of the cut-resistant gloves that are used in food prep and professional kitchens. It allows you to have much better control over the ingredient in your hand, gives you piece of mind on your protection, and best of all, are relatively cheap. I used to think they were stupid until I used one – I know keep a pair stowed away in a kitchen drawer for when the mandolin comes out or I have some cutting that requires tricky knife work.
How much cream do I add between layers?
When you’re layering the turnips, you may be tempted to pour a lot of the cream in between – don’t. We just want to provide a little moisture at the moment. Anything extra will be added at the end when we pour any remainder in!
What do I do with the thyme and garlic?
Once you pour the remaining cream into the dish, you can use the thyme and garlic for something else, or simply throw it away. You could add it to a little olive oil and eat with bread (if you’re not doing low-carb). For the spices that will be at the bottom of the pan, I always like to pour add them over the top of the turnips as they will carry the flavor and also hide like a flavor bomb underneath the cheesy crust!