There's potato gratin and then there's POTATO GRATIN of the rich, creamy, silky on the tongue kind. This cook, although slow and stubborn, eventually learned her lesson and suffered an epiphany of sorts last night. About time I'd say.
Point in fact - Saturday night we enjoyed individual servings of potato gratin that I threw together without benefit of a recipe. I peeled one large russet baking potato (aka Idaho), sliced it very thin and layered it in two 10 ounce ramekins along with a sprinkle of Wondra flour, a sliver of onions, a smidge of grated gruyere cheese and heavy cream - about 1/3 cup in each. Seasoned with salt, pepper and a dash of nutmeg, I gave the whole thing a quick minute in the microwave to warm up then shoved them into a 350 oven to cook while the pork roast got happy. Fifty minutes later - the result ...well look!
Creamy, rich, wonderful, cheesy, silky, comforting - they were everything a scalloped potato should be. I mean the darn things coulda' won a prize they were so darned tasty, and that was in the purest form. I often add sauteed mushrooms and blue cheese in exchange for gruyere and nutmeg.
So then, last night I actually followed a recipe and made another version. The cookbook I used I've honestly yet to make a recipe that I've been happy with, but as previously mentioned I'm stubborn so hate to give up on it just yet although believe me I'm getting closer to kicking it to the curb. The big guy was grilling steak and I'd already planned to make this leek and potato gratin, so just went ahead with it even though we'd enjoyed a gratin the night before. Is there any such thing as too many potatoes?
This version included a combination of russet and red potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced and layered with cooked leeks, sharp cheddar cheese and garlic. Topped with a light dusting of parmesan cheese and covered with whole milk, they spent an hour and 15 minutes in the oven. The result, dry firm potatoes that in no way resembled the gratin we had the night before. In an attempt to save the darn things I even added a layer of Velveeta and a little cream which made them edible, but just barely. What does that tell you if something's barely palatable even after the addition of more fat!
The lesson - if ya' want creamy potatoes, you need to use a potato that has more starch and breaks down when it cooks, like a russet along with gosh darn it - some cream. I mean it couldn't possibly have something to do with using a recipe from a cookbook that's questionable at best, never mind not having the "balls" to follow my own instincts...ah could it?
Thankfully once again the big guy saved the day because his grilled New York steak was superb as was the mushroom, onion, garlic and port combination he served along side it. Lesson learned - I'm going to leave the Sunday cooking to him ...oh and I'm ditching that cookbook too!