With Easter nearly upon us, I wanted to think of the perfect side dish to go with my easy Orange Mango Baked Ham. Both my mom and husband suggested Au Gratin potatoes, but dried potato pieces from a box with a packet of powdery cheese is pretty far from my ideal side dish. Then I remembered eating a delicious Potato Gratin at my friend Becca’s house, and I knew I had to recreate this spectacular dish for myself.
Potato Gratin is thinly sliced potatoes with a thick, creamy sauce made of butter, milk, and cream. Ah, yes. All those good things. Season it with salt, pepper, a hint of garlic, and a pinch of nutmeg and a potentially bland sauce is suddenly alive with flavors. The potatoes are parboiled in the milk sauce to prevent discoloration and infuse the slices with flavor. Then, first bake the dish covered to thicken the sauce, and next remove the cover for a crusty, bubbly top.
When it comes to prepping the potatoes, I like to use my food processor to create evenly sliced potatoes. I suggest working with one potato at a time to avoid any discoloration. Peel the potato, then test the size with your food processor feeding tube. If it’s too large, just continue peeling a little bit off one side until it’s narrow enough to fit down the tube. Or, simply slice your potatoes in half lengthwise. You may also use a mandolin or a sharp knife to make the slices. Then, immediately submerge the potato slices in the milk sauce and move on to the next potato.
If possible, grate nutmeg fresh from a whole berry. This will ensure the best possible flavor. Nutmeg is a natural complement to any creamy sauce, and it works really well with the hint of garlic. Speaking of garlic, You’ll use it two different ways in this recipe. First, you rub the inside of your baking dish with one clove cut in half. The second clove goes into the milk sauce, minced.
You’ll want to let the finished Potato Gratin rest at least 10 minutes before serving. If you baked it in a pie plate, feel free to cut wedges like a pie and serve them that way. No matter how you serve it, though, your friends and family will know that this isn’t just any old potato side dish. Potato Gratin is definitely something special.
- 2 cloves garlic, divided
- 3 T. unsalted butter, softened, divided
- 1 ¼ c. milk
- 1 c. heavy cream
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ⅛ tsp nutmeg
- 2 lbs. russet potatoes (about 3 large)
- Move an oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Cut one clove of garlic in half and rub the inside of a 9-inch pie plate or 8-inch square baking dish with the halves, discarding after use. Rub 1 T. butter on the inside of the same dish.
- In a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat, combine remaining 2 T. butter, milk, cream, 1 tsp. salt, ½ tsp. pepper, nutmeg, and the remaining clove of garlic, minced. Bring to a simmer.
- Meanwhile, working with one potato at a time to prevent discoloration, peel a potato and cut into ⅛-inch thick slices using a food processor fitted with a slicing disk or a sharp knife. Submerge the slices in the saucepan and repeat with remaining potatoes.
- Cover the saucepan and simmer 3 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to the pie plate, arranging the top layer of potatoes in an overlapping pattern if desired. Pour the remaining milk mixture over the potatoes.
- Butter a piece of aluminum foil and cover the potatoes, buttered side down. Bake, covered, for 40 minutes or until heated through. Remove the foil and continue baking about 20 minutes longer, until the top is golden brown and crispy.
- Remove from the oven and cool 10 minutes. Cut into wedges to serve.
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