Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A top crust consisting of browned crumbs and butter, often with grated cheese.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The top crust of a dish, consisting of breadcrumbs or grated cheese heated under a grill; the dish itself.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The brown crust formed upon a gratinated dish; also, the dish itself, as of crusts of bread, game, or poultry.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A browned crust.
  • n. Food served in a rich sauce and covered with browned crumbs.

Etymologies

French, from obsolete grater, to scratch, scrape, from Old French; see grate1.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French gratin (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The term "gratin" applies to any oven-cooked dish that has a protective crust of breadcrumbs or cheese.

    Upper-Crust Gratins

  • Broil for 8-10 minutes, or until the gratin is golden brown.

    Chard and Tomato au Gratin

  • Onion Tarte tatin, goat cheese with herbs and a potato gratin from the provence.

    raspberry lemonade

  • Remove gratin from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

    et patati et patata - French Word-A-Day

  • I love my turnips au gratin, which is just turnips blanched, layered with salt and pepper and cheese in between and plenty of heavy cream.

    Island Packet: Home

  • A gratin is a good way to accentuate all that is good about the fig. Run for five minutes under a broiler, the figs become soft and voluptuous, and sweeter.

    Kitchenography

  • "There was a big gold peg stickin 'there all ready t' slide into a slot, so's t 'hold th' gratin 'down, an' all I had t 'do was t' slide it.

    The Aztec Treasure-House

  • Mashing, steaming or enrobing the sputnik orb in cheese and baking it au gratin style, are delicious ways to cook the German vegetable.

    Groundwork: A cabbage named kohlrabi

  • Twice-baked goat's cheese soufflé, and smoky slices of salmon with an unctuous smear of horseradish-tinged crème fraiche, then "handsome and generous" roasted cod with chorizo stew, and melt-in-the-mouth slow-roast lamb shoulder on a bed of minted peas with potato gratin.

    Hotel review | Bank House Hotel, Norfolk

  • As expected, sweet potato and goat cheese gratin ($7.50) was sweet, tangy, and just goaty enough, with its black oil and basil.

    Ed Levine: A Sandwich Shop Ups Its Game

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