Thursday, January 7, 2010
Fancy Pants Po-tah-toes
Sometimes you want a side dish with that Wow factor.
You know, like when you rock a killer pair of hot pink or red heels or a sparkly statement necklace or a huge “Don’t be fooled by the rocks that I got” ring.
OK. Maybe, I just have those accessory moments.
But when you want your dinner guests to leave your table with a fond memory of the main course AND the accoutrement, serve them some Potato Gratin.
So, let’s get the tough questions out of the way:
Is this dish high-maintenance?
Does it take a big chunk of time?
Does it require the meticulous task of slicing potatoes ever so-fine and grating a whole heck of a lot of Gruyere cheese?
In the words of Sarah Palin, you betcha.
But it really is super fantastically scrumptious.
And, if I can make one selling point to the hassled, frazzled and frayed: You can make it ahead of time.
I do highly recommend that you slice your taters with a food processor and its slicing mechanism. Or you can use a mandolin slicer. (I have to admit, mandolins give me the shivers. Perhaps it’s my pianist fear of losing my fingers. Ack.)
Or, you can use the good-old sharp knife method. I don’t think my knife skills are up to par. And, you really want your potatoes sliced evenly so that they cook evenly. Makes sense, right?
Feel free to switch up your cheeses and your herbs. This is just how I groove on Potato Gratin.
Makes six to eight servings
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 tsp. dried thyme
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. butter (for buttering pan)
2 ½ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/8-inch thick slices
Salt and black pepper
1 ½ cups Gruyere cheese, shredded
½ cup Parmesan cheese, plus 3 to 4 Tbsp. for broiling
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Farenheit.
Butter a rectangular or oval 3-quart baking dish.
In a saucepan, combine cream, thyme, chopped garlic and nutmeg. Cover the pan. Heat over medium-low heat.
In the prepared baking dish, layer potato slices so that each overlaps a bit. Season layer with a pinch of salt and black pepper. Remove pan with cream from heat. Ladle a third of the mixture over the potatoes. Top with ½ a cup of Gruyere cheese and a third of the ½ cup of Parmesan cheese. Repeat this process two more times. You should have three layers.
Place pan in oven and bake for about 45 minutes.
Remove pan from oven. Sprinkle with 3 to 4 Tbsp. of Parmesan cheese and broil until top browns, about five minutes.
Note: You may make dish ahead and reheat at 300 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.