Pumpkin, Bacon, and Kale Gratin Paul Virant has two restaurants in the Chicago area, where he makes stellar food with a local, seasonal focus. Named after the French verb gratiner, which means "to broil," a gratin is essentially any vegetable baked in a shallow dish that develops a crispy crust thanks to its cheese or bread topping. Paul's simple vegetable gratin is easy to assemble and wonderfully indulgent, thanks to bacon, cream, and two kinds of cheeses. Cast-iron allows you to prep and bake the ingredients in the same pan, so you don't lose any delicious bits by moving them between pans. Best enjoyed when the temperature drops, this hearty gratin can be served as a main course with a simple green salad or as a side dish for Roast Chicken with Fingerling Potatoes, Herbs, and Lemon.
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¼ cup diced bacon 
2 cloves garlic, minced 
I shallot, minced 
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme 
I pound pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and sliced 1/4 Inch thick 
I bunch Tuscan kale, stems removed, roughly chopped, and blanched 
2 cups heavy cream 
1h cup grated 
Parmesan cheese 
1/, cup shredded 
Gruyere cheese 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper 



  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bring a large cast-iron cocotte of salted water to boil. Add the kale and blanch for 2 to 3 minutes or until kale is bright green. Remove and place in an ice bath to stop the cooking. Remove kale from ice bath, then squeeze to remove any excess liquid. 
  2. In a medium cast-iron roasting or fry pan, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, shallot, and thyme and cook for another 30 seconds. Add the pumpkin and kale and mix well. 
  3. In a petite French oven, bring the cream to a boil over medium-high heat. Immediately remove the cream from the heat and pour it over 
    the vegetable mixture. Top with the cheeses. Bake until the pumpkin is tender and the cheese is browned, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve.