Saturday, March 07, 2009

Recipe: Easy Potatoes au Gratin

I've seen variations on this dish, some of which don't even use cheese, but that's no fun, is it? My version here is really simple: peeled and sliced potatoes, a basic bechamel to which I add several big handfuls of grated cheese, and a breadcrumb topping.

Yield: 4 servings
Time: 20 minutes prep; 1 hour at 375F

  • 4-5 small potatoes, washed, peeled, and sliced thinly
  • 1 Tbs. of oil, butter, or bacon grease
  • 1 rounded Tbs. of flour
  • approx. 1 cup of milk (or cream)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • approx 1.5 cups of grated cheese (swiss, emmenthaler, monterey jack, and/or fontina are good choices)
  • a handful of plain bread crumbs (you could use panko, but regular breadcrumbs work fine)
  1. peel, slice and arrange the potatoes in a baking dish
  2. make a light roux: heat your fat of choice, add the flour to it, and whisk together
  3. cook that for a couple of minutes to get rid of the floury taste
  4. add your milk or cream, little by little, as it thickens, whisking the whole time
  5. add salt and ground pepper
  6. when the sauce coats the back of a spoon, but isn't too thick, add the cheese, a handful at a time, stirring or whisking it in (the cheese will further thicken the sauce, so you don't want it too thick to begin with)
  7. pour this over the potatoes, and stir it all together to get them well coated with sauce
  8. sprinkle on the breadcrumbs, and bake at 375F for about an hour
  1. I cover the baking dish for all but the last 15 minutes.
  2. You could use a mix of breadcrumbs and grated parmesan or romano for the topping.
  3. The cheese you use is up to you, but should have a sufficiently low melting point to incorporate into the bechamel. I find cheddar is rather oily, and I wouldn't use something like mozzarella that might get gummy.
  4. The finished product really wasn't that yellowy; it seems to be a function of taking the photo indoors after dark.

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