Beetroot and shallot gratin (Rosie Reynolds)

Earthy beetroots and sweet caramelised shallots perfectly partner the pungency of the epoisses cheese.

Serves 6-8
500g beetroot, topped and tailed, scrubbed clean
25g butter, plus extra for greasing
1 tbsp light flavoured oil
500g shallots, peeled and halved lengthways
3 tbsp thyme leaves
1 tbsp rosemary needles, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tsp caster sugar
600ml double cream
250g epoisses de Bourgogne cheese, thinly sliced

1 Cut the beetroot into 5mm-thick slices. Add to a pan of boiling water and cook for 8 minutes, until just starting to soften. Drain well.

2 Meanwhile, melt the butter and oil in a large, high-sided frying pan set over a medium heat. Add the shallots. Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently, until golden brown and starting to soften, but still able to hold their own shape. Add the thyme, rosemary, garlic and sugar and cook for a further 3 minutes.

3 Set the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Butter a large oven dish, with around 1.5 litre capacity.

4 Tip the beetroot into the frying pan with the shallots, season well and stir to combine. Pour over the cream and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and tip half of the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Dot with half of the cheese, then pour over the remaining beetroot and shallot mixture. Arrange the beetroot slices so they are laying flat in the dish. Make sure you scrape out all of the liquid and add to the dish, cover with the remaining cheese and bake in the hot oven for 35-45 minutes, or until the beetroot is really tender and the pink, creamy sauce is bubbling up around the edges. Leave to stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Rosie Reynolds, rosiereynolds.co.uk

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