Izzy Eats: The art of raising a gourmand, one bite at a time

Stirring tales of eating, cooking and foraging in my never-ending quest to provide, great-tasting (local and organic whenever possible) EATS for me and my boy(s).

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A Fancier Potato: The Gratin

I became enamored of potato gratin while living in Paris. It was frequently served in restaurants as an accompaniment to any number of meat dishes and seemed like an indulgence, which is why I almost always make one for New Year's Eve. There are numerous variations to this dish and in Patricia Well's, Bistro Cooking, there are 10 different recipes!

If you want to elevate an ordinary meal, primp your potatoes! It really sounds harder than it is. Aside from thinly slicing the potatoes, gratin preparation is a breeze. The recipe I favor calls for parboiling the potatoes in herb-infused milk. This technique insures that the gratin will be tender and creamy when cooked through.

Izzy's review says it all: He took a forkful and proclaimed, "Yumm..tastes like macaroni and cheese." (So much for the elegance I had aspired to...)

Pommes de Terre Solognottes (Potato Gratin from the Sologne)
(from Patricia Wells, Bistro Cooking)

2 cups milk
1/2 cup minced herbs (I use thyme and parsley,but she uses tarragon and chives too)
2 bay leaves
5 whole peppercorns
2 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
salt and pepper
1 garlic clove, halved
1/2 cup heavy cream or creme fraiche
1 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried
1 cup freshly grated gruyere or similar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Combine first four ingredients in a large saucepan. Cover and scald over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and let steep, covered for 10 minutes. Strain, discarding herbs and peppercorns.
3.Add potatoes to milk. Cover and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Rub the inside of an oval gratin dish(14 x 9 x 2) or whatever you have. Spoon the potato mixture into the dish. Pour cream over it and sprinkle with thyme.
5. Bake about 45 minutes or until golden and then sprinkle with grated cheese. Return to oven and bake until top is crisp, about 15 minutes more.

6 servings

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