Potatoes au gratin
It is the time of year for some warm, cozy, comfort dishes. I recently had the pleasure of a three-day camping/fishing trip with friends. The weather was on the cooler end, but still perfect for some amazing bank fishing as well as some short outings in a small aluminum fishing boat.
The trout were ravenous! They were also plump and delicious! On the same trip, some of the men would leave early in the morning for bird hunting.
The last evening we were there, we were treated to an amazing roasted duck dinner, paired with a wonderful broccoli/bacon side and these au gratin potatoes – it all made for an unforgettable get-a-way adventure!
I like a good deal of depth in my potatoes and so I browned the butter for a nice nutty flavor. I did not sauté the garlic – instead I just added it to the cream mixture freshly grated. I used a lemon thyme from my garden, and it really paired well with this dish! I also used a smoky gruyere this time and it was the perfect complement to the wild duck.
Unfortunately, there is no photo of this dish as I leave my phone behind on these trips! But trust me – it looked almost as good as it tasted!
2.5-pound starchy potatoes (Russet is best)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large purple onion chopped
2 tablespoons butter browned
2 cups cream full fat and room temperature
2 garlic cloves grated
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (optional – but highly recommended)
2 1⁄2 cups gruyere cheese (colby, cheddar, havarti or any flavorful cheese), freshly grated
Peel the potatoes and slice them 1/8-1/4 inch thick (best done with a mandolin slicer). If you cut them 1/4 inch, it will take a bit longer to cook.
Sauté onion in olive oil until a bit browned. Combine browned onion, warm browned-butter, cream, garlic, and thyme in a 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom of a baking dish and place a single layer of the potatoes. Pour 1/3 - 1/4 of the cream mixture depending on the number of layers that will fit in your dish (use a spoon to get some of the goodies in each layer), sprinkle with some of the cheese, add salt and pepper. Continue this until you run out of potatoes and cream mixture.
Hold the last layer of cheese to be placed at the end of baking. Cover with lid or foil and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the potatoes in the middle are soft (use knife to test).
Remove foil, top with cheese. Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes until golden and bubbly (you can also put under the broiler - just keep a watchful eye!) Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Kate Johnson is a long-time resident of Carson City. She is an avid gardener, cook, musician and lover of dogs.