Gratins land high on the list of comforting cold-weather dishes—after all, what’s not to love about a bubbling plate of deliciousness topped with a browned crust on a chilly night? French in origin, gratins generally include vegetables (potatoes are classic, as evidenced by the gratin shown here) and either cheese or cream (sometimes both!). They’re best made in a shallow dish, which allows for the perfect filling-to-topping ratio. And about that topping? It’s a key element to a gratin, whether made from breadcrumbs, grated cheese, butter, or some combination of all three.
A gratin can complement all manner of meaty mains, but they can also serve as an entrée in their own right, especially alongside a crisp green salad. And, happily for home cooks, gratins are great make-ahead dishes, whether you choose one that involves multiple steps (which can be spread out over the course of a day or two)