Don’t you just love a recipe that’s simple to make, tastes great, and makes a great side dish for most anything? Anything that goes with a baked potato, goes great with this. And anyone who has ever dined at Giusti’s, knows a baked potato goes with everything.
Potatoes gratin is easy to make if you have the right tool. Do yourself a favor, and buy a mandoline slicer. OXO makes a good one (Good Grips V-Blade) for around $40. I bought mine after a moment of clarity I had one evening, about an hour after slicing some potatoes with a knife. It came to me while I watched the doctor at Urgent Care skillfully place 5 stitches in my middle finger.
Did you know that the human body has one of its highest concentrations of nerve endings in the pads of your fingers? That’s what he told me, and I believe him. So do yourself a favor, buy the slicer, and most importantly, use the guard. Best 40 bucks I’ve ever spent on a kitchen gadget. I sliced three pounds of potatoes for this recipe in around two minutes, 30 seconds. Every slice was a perfect 1/8 inch thick. And yes, I timed it.
I like using Irish cheddar and parmigiano/reggiano together, but you can try your favorite. Just keep the parm/regg in the mix, and make sure the other cheese is on the dry side. The people at Cheese Central on School Street are bound to have something you will love. They’re highly knowledgeable, and as nice as can be. Definitely worth a visit. I also prefer using Russet potatoes. They have a softer texture, and tests have shown them to be more absorbent of liquid, therefore flavor, than either Yukon Gold, or red potatoes. After reading the study, I pondered giving up my 35 year career as a stylist to chase my dream of becoming a potato research scientist. It must be fascinating.
I would invite you to include this dish as part of one of my favorite meals: Grilled rib eye steak, creamed kale, garlic bread, and a nice Cabernet Sauvignon. Potatoes Gratin also plays well with barbecued meats and sausages, which pairs well with too many of our superb local Zinfandels to count.
Irish cheddar potatoes gratin
Preheat oven to 375 degrees, or convection oven to 350.
3 pounds Russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick.
1 cup grated parmigiano/reggiano
1 cup grated Irish cheddar, plus 1/4 cup for top
16 ounces heavy cream
1/4 cup green onions, green part only, chopped fine. (Plus 2 tablespoons for top)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium shallot, minced.
Leaves from 6 sprigs fresh thyme, minced, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, except the extra cheddar and green onions. Place in a casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray. Flatten it down as well as you can without smashing the potatoes. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Check the potatoes after about 30 minutes, and again at 40 min. If the top is turning the color you want, place foil over the top and continue cooking. I cook mine on convection, and have never had a problem with it burning. Let it stand 10 minutes before serving, and sprinkle with the rest of the green onions. Add loved ones and enjoy.
Chuck Nelson was born in Lodi and attended school in Galt and Stockton. He has been a hair sylist in Lodi for 33 years, currently at Oasis Salon. He is married to Glenyss and has two daughters, Trisha and Tracy and one grandson, Dylan. He enjoys reading, doing mind puzzles, playing golf and cooking for friends and family.