January 2, 2011

Gratin Potatoes

I was asked to bring scalloped potatoes to a group dinner on New Year's Eve. Well, I claimed that I knew how to make them (because, really, how hard can it be?), and didn't mention that I had hated scalloped potatoes (scalloped potatoes and ham, as my mother made them) growing up. Because I hated ham, growing up, too. But I like it now. So why not give scalloped potatoes a shot?

A search of "scalloped potatoes" on Rouxbe.com (I'm a registered student) came up with this recipe for "gratin potatoes". Gratin is French for "with cheese", as you may know, and "cheese" means "love".

Gratin Potatoes
  • 4 medium-to-large potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon softened butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups whipping cream (can substitute heavy cream)
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated powdered parmesan
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. 
  2. To begin square off the bottom of each potato so that it sits firmly on the cutting board. Cut each potato into 1/4" slices, still keeping the potato together. Discard the end pieces.
  3. Place the sliced potatoes into a square pan that has been smeared with butter and minced garlic. Then gently press on the potatoes until the potatoes are at a 45 degree angle. 
  4. In a medium sized mixing bowl whisk the parmesan, salt and pepper into the cream. (You want it to be almost too salty, so taste the mixture. The potatoes will soak up most of the saltiness.) Then pour the cream mixture over the potatoes. They should be almost completely covered. 
  5. Sprinkle the potatoes with a little more parmesan, cover with aluminium foil and bake for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the potatoes are tender when poked with a knife.
  6. To finish the potatoes remove the foil, turn the heat up to 375ºF and continue to bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the top is golden brown. 
  7. Remove the potatoes from the oven and allow them to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before you serve them. This will give them time to thicken and soak up any extra cream.
  • Choose potatoes that are more or less the same size, so you don't have to peel and cut so many.
  • Use fresh parmesan rather than the stuff that comes in a shaker can. Grate it first, then pulverize it in a food processor or grinder to get the proper texture and quantity.
I wish I'd take pictures, but I didn't have a camera with me at all on New Year's. Let's just say they turned out very well, and were a massive hit.

And I think I know why I hated my mom's scalloped potatoes. She always cut them super-thin, with the potato peeler. Which limits their ability to soak up liquid and get soft and potatoey. Scalloped potato slices need to have some substance to them, so they can absorb liquid and flavour. Yes.


  1. They really are, yeah. And, should you have leftovers, they're possibly even more delicious on the second day. :)

  2. That sounds fantastic. I love au gratin potatoes so much. One thing I miss about my old kitchen is the double oven where I could make something yummy like this while baking/roasting something else without worrying about oven air flow (or even if both dishes would fit.

    I don't know if you remember Alice or not but her husband made the most amazing dish - cooked in a cast iron skillet - with potatoes, sour cream, and jalapenos. I *hate* jalapenos but I nearly licked my plate when I was done it was so good. I haven't been able to replicate it since.