This recipe strikes a chord of international Alpine harmony
1 cup toasted buckwheat groats (whole kasha)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter plus additional for buttering gratin dish
1 garlic clove, sliced thin
2 cups coarsely chopped mushrooms
2 1/2 pounds low-starch potatoes, peeled, washed, and sliced 1/8 inch thick
1 cup very thinly sliced onions
salt to taste
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup grated imported Italian fontina (preferably fontina val d'Aosta)
1. Cook the buckwheat: Bring the broth to a boil in a saucepan with a tightly fitting lid over high heat. Add the buckwheat, stir, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until the buckwheat is mostly soft but with a slight crunch remaining.2. While the buckwheat is simmering, cook the mushrooms: melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet over low heat. Add the garlic and cook until it begins to turn golden. Add the mushrooms and cook until their juices cover the bottom of the pan, about 10 minutes.
3. Assemble the gratin: Grease a large baking dish or gratin dish, 14 inches by 81/2 inches by 2 inches, with butter. Arrange a layer of potato slices on the bottom of the dish. Cover the empty spaces with more potato slices until you can no longer see the bottom, and you've used about half of the potato slices. Next, arrange the onion slices over the potatoes. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Spoon the cooked mushrooms over the potatoes and onions, making sure to cover them. Top the mushroom layer with the cooked buckwheat. Layer the remaining potatoes and sprinkle lightly with salt. Pour the cream over the gratin, making sure to moisten as much of the surface as you can. Sprinkle the cheese over the top. Cover with foil.
4. Bake the gratin in a preheated 375 degrees oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 20 more minutes, or until the cheese is brown and the cream is bubbling. Remove the gratin from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes so that the liquids set. Serve immediately.
We have never heard of a traditional use of this combination of ingredients, but we think it strikes a chord of international Alpine harmony. With ingredients drawn from cuisines all around the Alps, this delicious dish should be a Swiss classic, even if they haven't heard of it yet. We find that it works well as a side dish with roast pork, turkey, or game, or with braised meats. Wine-braised sauerkraut on the side of this side would round out the plate nicely. Serves 6 as a side dish 2 cups chicken broth or beef broth