Chef Charlie Palmer suggests this gratin as a standout side for the Thanksgiving table, and we agree. In it, he switches up the standard potato gratin by adding parsnips, which give it a sweet vanilla note, and fresh breadcrumbs for an extra-crunchy topping. To make it, put together a quick cream and garlic sauce on the stovetop, then layer that in a baking dish with sliced potatoes, parsnips, and Emmentaler cheese and bake, sprinkling on the breadcrumb topping toward the end to crisp.
Special equipment: A good-quality mandoline is indispensable in a professional kitchen, and is useful here. Watch your fingers: The ingredients you’re going to slice should be cupped in the palm of your hand, not held with your fingertips. For even slices, apply more forward than downward pressure. (Pressing down too hard will yield vegetables thicker on one side than the other, as well as feed your fingers into the blade.)
Game plan: The gratin can be made ahead through step 5, covered, and refrigerated. To serve, rewarm it covered in a 350°F oven for about 25 minutes, then continue with step 6.
It's Halloween party season, which means candy corn, punch bowls with floating eyeballs, lots of pumpkins...