And so this exploration of the lowly potato continues. By rights, 2014 will go down as the Year of the Potato here at A Veggie Venture, going way back to Midsummer when we ate our weight in new potatoes during a long holiday in Finland, Estonia and Sweden. Remember Finnish Summer Potato Salad? Yeah, my ode to Finnish Potatoes.
But until now, I've yet to master a really good scalloped potato, what the French call Potatoes Lyonnaise or a "potato gratin" – and while it's possible, even typical, to go all out out and cheesy with scalloped potatoes, here I wanted something extraordinary and yet extraordinarily simple. These potatoes are, indeed, all about the potatoes, in my dish, sixteen thin-thin layers of russet potatoes enriched with just enough cream to hold them together. They are dramatic on the table and cut into tight squares.
Simple yes but also extraordinary.
RECIPE for SIMPLE SCALLOPED POTATOES
Time to table: 1-3/4 hours
Fills a 10x7 (or similar) baking dish about an inch thick, enough to serve 12 for a "regular meal" or as many as 24 at a big, multi-course meal like Thanksgiving
1 tablespoon soft salted butter, for the baking dish
1 cup (227g) heavy cream
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 large russet baking potatoes, about 2-1/2 pounds (1134g)
1 tablespoon butter, in tiny cubes, for the top
Set oven to 450F/230C. Butter the bottom of an oven-safe 10x7 or similar-size baking dish and up the sides by an inch. In a bowl, mix the cream, garlic and salt. Scrub the potatoes really well.
One at a time, use a mandoline to slice the potatoes about 1/16-inch thick, that's thick enough for the slices to hold together, not so thin you can see through them. Before starting, it helps to cut a small slice off one end, creating a flat surface for the mandoline blade. Layer the potato slices in the baking dish, overlapping the slices slightly. After the first and second potatoes, spoon about a quarter of the cream mixture over the layers, saving half for the top potato's layers.
You'll bake the potatoes in three steps. #1 Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. #2 Remove foil and bake for another 20 minutes. #3 Reduce heat to 375F/190C, dot the top with 1 tablespoon butter and bake for another 20 minutes. Finally, remove from oven, cover with foil and let rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing to serve.
MAKE-AHEAD To make ahead, make and bake the entire dish. Cover with foil and refrigerate for up to four hours (longer is not recommended, the potatoes begin to turn color a little). Heat oven back to 375F/190C and bake, uncovered, until heated through, about 30 minutes. The dish is "not as good" when made-ahead but still very good.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
BUTTER Butter the bottom of the pan plus up the sides about an inch. If you go any higher, as I did, that butter will burn.
LEAVE SKINS ON? I like the rustic appearance of potatoes with their skins on but it would be fine to peel the potatoes too. It might actually take less time to peel them to scrub them really well, however.
MANDOLINE SAFETY Be careful with that mandoline, the blades are so sharp! You might want to review How to Use a Japanese Mandoline (Benriner).
FOR AESTHETICS Arrange the last potato's slices especially decoratively. You'll see from my photo that I ended up with three slices leftover and dropped them into the center – wish I hadn't done that, it messed up the "look".
INDIVIDUAL SERVINGS I have the idea this would work well for an individual serving in a small ramekin or something similar. It would work really well with steaks or roast chicken.
PLAYING AROUND It's easy to imagine playing around with a simple recipe. You could stir a tablespoon of sherry into the cream. You could warm the cream, infusing it with fresh thyme or sage. You could put shreds of Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions between the layers. You could put a few shreds of Gruyere between the layers. You could use truffle oil instead of butter on the top. So many ways to play around!
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MORE FAVORITE POTATO RECIPES~ Potato & Poblano Pepper Gratin ~
~ Scalloped Potato & Apple ~
~ Scalloped Swedes & Finns ~
~ Greek Spinach-Asparagus-Potato Gratin (Spinaki me Sparaggia Orgraten) ~
~ more potato recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Perfect Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes (Party Potatoes) ~
~ Smashed Potatoes & Broccoli ~
~ Those Pink Potatoes ~
~ more potato recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column
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