Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Simple Potato Gratin

This rich and creamy potato gratin makes the perfect side dish for baked ham, grilled steak, or roast chicken!

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Well, I'm six months into motherhood, and I'm finally feeling more comfortable with the "new normal". Caroline and I have established a daily routine, which includes having her in the kitchen as much as possible while I'm cooking.

I know she's still just a baby, but I can't help but daydream that Caroline will want to help me in the kitchen one day and that she'll develop a love of food and cooking early on in her life. Although I'm not entirely sure she's paying attention, I show her the ingredients I'm working with and describe how each tastes and smells. I also explain what I'm doing as I'm doing it (e.g. using a spoon to stir something and using a spatula to flip something over to cook on the other side) so she can start to understand what each kitchen utensil does.

And, when it came time to show her the mandoline I was going to use to slice the potatoes for this Potato Gratin, I gave her a lesson in kitchen safety, briefly telling her about the time Stephen cut himself the one (and only) time he used it to slice vegetables. He was so traumatized by the experience that he won't even stay in the kitchen with me when I'm using it.

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Is it absolutely necessary to use a mandoline?

No, of course not.

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But a mandoline does make the task of slicing go quickly while giving you slices of consistent thickness. And having slices that are of equal thickness ensures even cooking, preventing you from experiencing the unpleasantness of biting into a still-raw potato after you've left the gratin in the oven for nearly an hour.

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Once you've sliced your potatoes, gather some Swiss cheese, and fresh thyme and prepare to layer the ingredients in a medium baking dish.

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Start with a layer of potatoes...

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Then sprinkle the potatoes with salt, pepper, and fresh thyme leaves.

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Next up? The cheese!

I used packaged shredded Swiss to save myself a little time, but if you want to shred or grate it from a larger block of cheese, then go for it. :)

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Continue building layers of potatoes, seasonings, and cheese until you run out of potatoes, making sure to end with cheese on the top. This is the cheese that will brown while the gratin bakes giving the dish that satisfying crust.

Pour in a heated mixture of half-and-half and heavy cream and then slide the gratin into the oven to bake for about an hour. (I usually place the dish on a baking sheet that's been lined with aluminum foil just in case the liquid bubbles up and spills over the sides.)

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You'll know that the gratin is ready to come out of the oven when the potatoes are tender. You should be able to insert a thin-bladed knife into the potatoes with little or no resistance.

Serve the gratin immediately or keep it warm in the oven for up to 30 minutes before serving.

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But... let's be honest.

When you smell the cheese browning and hear the cream bubbling and then see how amazing the gratin looks when you take it out of the oven, you're going to go for it immediately.


Simple Potato Gratin

Prep Time: 10-15 minutes | Cook Time1 hour | Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes | Yield: 4 servings | Printable Recipe

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 pound (about 2 medium) russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Combine the half-and-half and heavy cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Allow to heat, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
  3. Place a layer of potatoes on the bottom of a medium baking dish. Sprinkle the potatoes with salt, pepper, and some of the fresh thyme leaves. Continue building layers in this manner until you run out of potatoes, ensuring that you end with cheese.
  4. Pour in enough of the heated cream mixture so that it's level with the top layer of potatoes.
  5. Put the baking dish in the oven and allow to bake, undisturbed, until the potatoes are tender and the top is nicely browned, about 1 hour.
  6. Once the potatoes are tender, remove the gratin from the oven and serve immediately. Or, keep the gratin warm in the oven for up to 30 minutes before serving.
Recipe by Michelle Rittler, Taste As You Go // adapted from How to Cook Everything,10th Anniversary Edition

Taste As You Go Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate product links. Clicking on the links may result in my being paid a commission based on product sales. Regardless of commission, all opinions expressed in this post are my own.

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