Suzi's Blog

Three-Cheese Potato Gratin

2013_08_04_1648There are different kinds of comfort food, some simple, some complex. This rich potato gratin is something that delivers wonders in small doses. Just a few bites of this dish should satisfy your potato cravings. It takes a half hour to prep and the cooking time means that this dish will test your nostrils long before your actual palette.

I recently posted a Crab and Corn Bisque from The Domaine Chandon Cookbook and I mentioned that this soup deserved equally elegant dishes for the rest of the meal. This is one of those dishes, and from that same cookbook. The flavor is smooth, mellow, and just perfectly satisfying.

I’ve written the recipe below almost exactly as it appears in the cookbook, with one major change. I did add corn to my gratin, for flavor, color and because I had corn hanging around in my freezer and I was getting irritated with it. That said, the corn was a great addition.

The cheese amounts here are modest. You can increase any or all of them. Dividing ½ cup of the Havarti into four parts, and truly covering the potato layers each time, is a bit of a challenge.

The original cooking time was written as 45-50 minutes. I needed a full 85 minutes to get potatoes that were really cooked and not “chewy.” I sliced the potatoes by hand and did not use a mandolin. Why? I like my fingerprints. I’m terrified of mandolins. I don’t know if my “thicker” slices were the only reason for the longer cooking time, but I really did not mind. I had an open bottle of wine and time to wait. There are times to rush in life and then there are times to watch the sun going down.

Three-Cheese Potato Gratin

Yield: serves 4 as main course, 6-8 as a side dish

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 3 pounds white potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ½ cup fresh shredded Havarti cheese
  • 1 cup corn kernels [optional]
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Gruyere cheese
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish with the butter.

In a bowl, whisk together the cream, salt, pepper and nutmeg. On the bottom of the prepared dish, p0lace one-fourth of the potato slices in a layer about ¼ inch thick. Top with one fourth of corn. Pour in ½ cup of the cream mixture. Sprinkle with one fourth of the Havarti cheese.

Repeat to make three more layers of potatoes, corn, cream and Havarti.

Sprinkle the top layer with Gruyere and Parmesan cheese as well.

Bake until the potatoes are tender and the top is bubbly and golden brown, 45 to 90 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the gratin to firm up. Serve warm.

Source: The Domaine Chandon Cookbook

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 18-55mm Macro Lens, F/2.8 for 1/50h second at ISO 3200

Poblano Rice Gratin from Fresh Mexico by Marcela Valladolid

Do you ever manipulate your spouse? I mean just plain set them up on the path you want them to follow. Can you do it without guilt?

I don’t want to think of myself as having crossed over to The Dark Side, but I’m rather accomplished at steering Suzen now.

“What’s that? ANOTHER Mexican cook book?” Suzen asked me with skepticism. She took the book from my hand. “Did you buy this because of the picture?” Now she was being very accusative, so the manipulation that was about to take place stirred not a scintilla of guilt in me.

The book cover for Fresh Mexican features author Marcela Valladolild. Marcela has one of the Disney-Mickey-Mouse-Club faces that has appealed to men since 1955.

Now, it turns out, the Marcela is a very accomplished culinary pro. She has books, TV shows, and writes with an important perspective: she likes Tex-Mex food but she grew up on real Mexican food and wants us to experience and enjoy authentic Mexican dishes. The 100 recipes in the book, while simple to prepare, are wonderfully different and intensely flavor packed. Imagine trying:

  • Lobster, Mango and Avocado Salad
  • Poblano Potato Salad
  • Puff Pastry Wrapped Jalapenos with Oaxaca Cheese

“Suzen,” I began strategically. “I really hadn’t noticed this picture. I got this book for you. You like poblanos, right? Look at this picture.” I showed her a full page phone of this Poblano Rice Gratin.

“Let me get the shopping list,” she announced. “We’re doing this tonight.”

And we did. And it is fiery good. And, and, we served it with the Bulgarian Cast Iron Chicken with Bacon and Sauerkraut I posted yesterday. It’s a perfect pairing.

There are books, like Fresh Mexico, where you can do the whole meal from that single book. With 4000 cookbooks, we can adopt more of a United Nations approach. Some Bulgarian here. A Mexican dish there. Something American tossed in. Oh, our American piece for this meal? That’s a frozen iceberg lettuce recipe that you will see this weekend.

This rice dish makes great leftovers, of course. The chile and cheese flavors penetrate and mellow. Easily prepared, you may find the being one of those side dishes that is a family standard.

Poblano Rice Gratin

Servings: 4-8

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup minced white onion
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • Kernels from 2 ears fresh corn
  • 2 poblano chilies, charred, stemmed, seeded and chopped
  • ¼  cup Mexican crema or sour cream
  • ½ cup grated Monterey Jack Cheese

Preparation:

Heat the oil in a medium-size heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add the rice and cook for 10 minutes, or until opaque. Add 2 cups water and the corn kernels and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the rice is tender.

Meanwhile, preheat the broiler on high.

When the rice is cooked, fluff it with a fork and stir in the chopped poblanos. Transfer the rice to a 7 x 10-inch baking dish. Drizzle with the crema, and sprinkle the cheese all over the rice. Broil for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the top is browned in spots and the cheese has melted

Source: Fresh Mexico: 100 Simple Recipes for True Mexican Flavor by Marcela Valladolid