ALICE WATERS’ POTATO GRATIN
If you need to make these ahead of time, just reheat covered with foil in a preheated 350ºF oven for about 15 to 20 minutes or until cream-stock mixture is bubbling.
Many variations are possible: potato and turnip, potato and celery root, potato and winter squash, potato and leek, potato and and black truffle, or potato and sweet potato. Try adding a layer of some other delicious thing between the potato layers: sorrel, green garlic or roasted garlic, grilled chicory, sautéed wild mushrooms, caramelized onions, kale or chard, black olives, artichoke hearts.
- softened butter
- 1 clove garlic, smashed
- 3 lbs. red skinned potatoes, peeled (I used about 2 lbs. 10 oz. peeled potatoes)
- kosher salt
- fresh thyme sprigs
- freshly grated nutmeg (optional, but really nice — I forgot to do this)
- 1.5 cups (or more or less) chicken stock
- 1.5 cups (or more or less) heavy cream
- 1 heaping cup (about 2 oz.) grated gruyère cheese
- 1/4 cup (less than 1 oz.) grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Adapted from alexandracooks.com
1. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Rub an earthenware gratin dish (I used a 9×13-inch Pyrex) with smashed peeled garlic and butter.
2. Using a mandoline or knife, cut potatoes 1/8-inch thick and layer overlapping slices in the prepared pan. Season with salt (don’t be afraid to use a heavier hand with the salt — potatoes can handle it), pepper, and thyme leaves (no need to chop — just pull and scatter). Lightly grate nutmeg over top — be sure to go light. Make another layer of potato slices and season again in the same manner. Moisten with cream, cream and chicken stock, or milk to the top level of the top layer of potatoes. (I used 1.5 cups each of heavy cream and chicken stock, but I probably could have used more, and you may need more or less depending on the size of the pan you are using.) Sprinkle the top with grated cheeses, and distribute thin shavings of butter (forgot to do this) on top. Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, checking after 40 minutes or so to make sure the potatoes are not browning too quickly. If they are browning too quickly, cover the pan with foil and continue baking until the potatoes are tender and the top is nicely browned. You can also turn the temperature down to 375ºF if necessary.