One of my childhood Buddies, Laura, wants a good recipe for Potatoes Au Gratin. Laura’s family is huge and happy and fun!. Must be getting together for another celebration. If that is the Case Laura, what better buffet item than Cheesy Potatoes Au Gratin.
The potato gratin only requires a bit of work to assemble and then it goes into the oven, ahead of time, so that potatoes and sauce have time to firm up. This popular bit of comfort food is pretty much a fix it, pop it in the oven and forget it dish. It is really hard to beat warm potato slices drenched in cream and covered in melted cheese. You can give it a crunchy panko bread crumb topping or enjoy the perfectly burnt cheese topping instead.
Lets talk cheese…Oh The Cheese! What is your pleasure? I love to make this the American way with just plain old sharp cheddar. I love the snap and bite on my palate with every bite. Some prefer Gruyere like the French originally used. As a matter of fact, do you know about how it came about?
This dish was originally developed for French Royalty. Some seem to think it was made first for a very young Crown Prince Henri so that he would eat vegetables…..nothing ever changes, does it?…..
The term Gratin is not just for potatoes. Gratin is from the French Language in which the word “gratter” meaning to “to scrape” as of the “scrapings” of bread or cheese. Gratin is a widely-used culinary technique in food preparation, in which an ingredient is topped with a browned crust, often using breadcrumbs, grated cheese, egg and butter. Gratin is usually prepared in a shallow dish of some kind. A gratin is baked to form a golden crust on top (the gratin) and is traditionally served in its baking dish.
Of course, we Americans simply put our own stamp on it when it came to this country. I would NOT doubt that Potatoes Au Gratin was first served here in the US at some great old Hotel like the Waldorf.
So Laura, here you go. My Classic American Recipe and one French version to compare with. Cheers!
Potatoes Au Gratin
4 side servings
Ingredients: 1 cup heavy cream, 1 cup milk , 1 clove garlic (chopped) A couple of springs of fresh Rosemary chopped,
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste, 1 pound potatoes (pealed and sliced thinly length wise),
1 ½ cups of Sharp Cheddar (or more) , 1/4 cup bread crumbs (optional), 1/3 cup unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
Directions Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl, whisk the cream with the salt and pepper and nutmeg Butter a 1 1/2 quart baking dish with about 1 tablespoon of the softened butter. Arrange a layer of potatoes in the baking dish, pour some cream mixture and then sprinkle some of the cheese over them. Sprinkle some rosemary . Continue layering potatoes and cheeses until you’ve used them all, ending with a layer of Cheese. Dot the remaining butter over the top and sprinkle with the paprika.
Bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until the potatoes are tender and golden brown on top. Let stand for 5 – 10 minutes before serving.
AND the French Version taken from Cuisine France http://www.cuisine-france.com/recipes/gratin_dauphinois.htm
2lb (1kg) potatoes (waxy potatoes such as pink fir apple, russet) 1 or 2 cloves garlic, mashed, , 2 oz butter 2 cups (50cl) whole milk , 5 oz (160g) French or Swiss Gruyère cheese , 1 pint double cream, Salt and pepper
Dauphinois Recipe (serve 6)
Step 1: Preheat oven to 360ºF (180 ºC). Slice the potatoes into thin slices (1/8 inch thick). Rinse in cold water. Drain and dry in a towel Step 2: Put the potatoes in a pan and cover with milk. Add salt Step 3: Bring to the boil starting at moderate heat for 5 minutes then low heat for 10 minutes. Stir from time to time. Step 4: Rub a fireproof dish with garlic and grease it well with butter. Transfer half of the potatoes in the gratin dish. Add half the cheese, double cream and pepper to the layer. Put the second half of the potatoes and cover with the cheese and double cream left. Step 5: Put the dish in the oven and cook for 1 hour at 360ºF (180 ºC). Gratin Dauphinois is ready when the top is gold and brown.