Au Gratin Potatoes

AuGratinPotatoesbfLOIt was a cool and sunny day…

Well, it’s been like that around here for a while – with the occasional one day spike into the 90’s just to mess with our heads – so I was thinking about ‘cool weather’ food, like onion soup or maybe a nice, bubbly bowl of potatoes and cheese.

LibrarybfLOI also felt that I should maybe check out the stash o’ cook books and ephemera we have downstairs as opposed to firing up da Google and hitting search. We have a fair-sized collection, if I do say so myself, and I figured I’d find a TON of recipes and interesting variations on this classic recipe.

No dice. Book after book turned out to have no mention; it was getting to the point where I figured Betty Crocker must have just developed the concept as a way to use up freeze-dried potato disks, when I came across this recipe in a church cookbook from Colorado. Hmmm. I’m not what you’d call a regular church goer, and I’ve never been to Colorado (unless you count a stop at the Denver Airport on the way to New Mexico), so I’m guessing this book was a gift from Rich’s mom. THANKS MOM!

Aside from being the only printed version I could find, I also found it interesting that this recipe called for Gruyère in place of the much more usual cheddar. I was interested. Of course, I was fresh out of Gruyère, but we had a perfectly adequate block of generic Swiss in the cheese drawer – close enough, we were good to go:

•6 medium potatoes – thinly sliced – I used one of those small bags of mini Yukon Gold potatoes and didn’t peel them
•2 cups milk or half & half – the original recipe called for one cup of milk and one of heavy cream – I didn’t mind the half & half as a compromise, and it saved me a trip to the market
•1 shallot, minced (or one small onion and a bit of garlic)
•1 egg, beaten
•Rosemary – I used some fresh from teh garden, and added chives and some of Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute
•Salt & Pepper
•3 tbsp butter
•1 cup Gruyère cheese, grated (I used basic Swiss) – or you COULD use Cheddar or a nice Double Gloucester

Rub an oven-safe casserole with butter.

Combine 3/4 cup cheese with minced shallot, egg and whatever seasonings you’re using.

Line bottom of casserole with one layer of potatoes. Smooth on a layer of cheese. Repeat until used up.

Heat milk or half & half until very hot and pour over potato and cheese mixture.

Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese (I also added a sprig of rosemary to the top) and bake, uncovered, at 350º for one hour, or until the potatoes are tender.

I baked mine covered to keep the top from becoming too brown too soon, uncovering for the last 10 minutes or so. If you DO this – be sure to put the casserole in a foil lined, rimmed baking pan, because stuff WILL bubble over.

These were quite good that night for dinner – but they were even better as leftovers two nights later. Next time I make ‘em, I’ll try cheddar or Double Gloucester – hmmm or maybe some Huntsman, double the cheese/egg/spice mixture and do the whole thing a day ahead.

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