Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon butter. Peel and seed squash, then thinly slice using a hand slicer, such as a Benriner or Mandoline slicer. Layer squash in baking dish, sprinkling some of salt and pepper between each layer. When baking dish is half filled, sprinkle 1/2 of cheese and thyme over squash. Continue layering squash with salt and pepper. Pour cream evenly over top layer, then sprinkle with remaining cheese and thyme. Cover baking dish with foil and bake until squash is tender, about 45 minutes. Remove foil from baking dish and preheat broiler. Broil gratin until top is browned about 4 minutes. Serve.
"The most delicious things that we make are often things that are grown in and around our world. It's not necessarily fancy or hard to get; it's just a question of sourcing it," says chef Mario Batali, co-author of America Farm to Table.