This is a traditional, old-fashioned potato gratin my great-grandmother, Mamma, might have made. She was a fantastic baker and cook, and her dinners and brunches were legendary. But this is a dish that invites your own stamp, so feel free to riff away.
What we call potato gratin today originated in the Dauphiné region of France as gratin dauphinois, and has as many variations as there are cooks who make it. The original recipe, going back to the late 1700's, calls for thinly sliced raw potatoes layered in a shallow dish rubbed with butter and garlic, and covered with cream or crème fraîche. Common variations include a melty cheese like Gruyère, eggs, and a mixture of milk and cream. For mine, I included the Gruyère, used a mixture of milk, cream, and broth, and steeped garlic and a large sprig of rosemary in the liquid before adding it to the layered potatoes. At the end, I topped it with buttery panko bread crumbs for a little crunch, but it's totally optional.
This dish is a fantastic addition to any buffet you're planning or potluck you're attending over the holiday season. It's a huge crowd pleaser, and if you have a mandoline, it's a dish that comes together quickly with little fuss. Best of all, make it ahead, and just reheat in a 350˚F oven until bubbling hot before serving.
There are different mandolines on the market, and I've tried a number of them. For my purposes, I've decided I don't need the larger one with multiple blades – it's just more blades to cut myself on, and I don't have an endless amount of storage space for kitchen gadgets. So I use a small OXO model and works really well. Check it out here on Amazon (full-disclosure– I'm an Amazon affiliate and will make a few pennies if you click on the link, which helps to support the costs of having a blog):
Old-Fashioned Potato Gratin | #SundaySupper
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter divided
- 2 teaspoons garlic paste divided (I use [url]Gourmet Garden's Stir-In-Paste ∞http://www.gourmetgarden.com/en/product/269/garlic-stir-paste[/url])
- 1 1/2 cups 2% milk
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup vegetable broth
- 1 -2 large sprigs fresh rosemary
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes about 5 potatoes
- 2 cups grated Gruyere Swiss cheese
- Optional: 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Optional: 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- Preheat the oven to 425˚F, and butter an 8" X 8" baking pan with 1/2 tablespoon of the unsalted butter. Lightly smear it with 1 teaspoon of the garlic paste.
- Combine the milk, cream, broth, rosemary, salt, pepper, the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, and remaining 1 teaspoon garlic paste in a small pot over medium heat. Gently simmer for 5 minutes and allow to cool on the stove.
- Slice the unpeeled potatoes on a mandolin the thickness of a quarter, about 1/8-inch. I used the thinnest setting on my hand-held mandolin, and sliced them all up in about 5 minutes. Layer the pan with a single layer of overlapping potato disks. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the grated cheese, and if desired, and little additional salt and pepper. Layer two additional layers of overlapping potato slices on top. Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired, and cover with half of the remaining cheese. Layer two final layers of potato slices, and top with the cheese.
- Remove the rosemary sprigs from the liquid - don't worry if a few rosemary leaves detach into the liquid. Pour the warm liquid over the potatoes.
- Place on a baking sheet, and slide into the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Check it after 20 minutes to see if it's browning too quickly. If so, cover with foil, and continue to bake until the potatoes are tender.
- Optional: Melt the optional butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the breadcrumbs, and toss to coat. Sauté on the stove until lightly browned. They'll brown more quickly the less you move them around. Sprinkle over the top of the baked potato gratin just before serving.