CHEDDAR POTATO GRATIN
On the day I was testing the recipe for this Cheddar Potato Gratin, we had our first snow fall. It was a quiet Sunday afternoon and it seemed so fitting to be making this wonderful and comforting dish. It was a quiet reminder to slow down and cook something that is simple but requires a bit more effort and time. And then enjoying those efforts with my family and friends. November is such a hectic time of year and I’ve been feeling the stress of planning the holidays and completing deadlines. It’s so nice to just take a moment out for ourselves and truly appreciate the little things.
There are so many delicious ways to prepare the humble potato, but with the Thanksgiving just around the corner I wanted to create something special. This is no ordinary potato dish. It combines the classic creamy potato gratin with the look and crispy edges of a hasselback potato. Oh yes, this is going to be one of your favorites. The recipe makes a beautiful presentation for a special occasion side dish or a tasty supper paired with a green salad and a glass of wine.
Growing up I think we called these Scalloped or Au Gratin Potatoes. A similar version goes by the very elegant name of Dauphinoise Potatoes. It is a luxurious dish of thinly sliced potatoes roasted in cream, cheddar cheese and a touch of butter. There are a few other ingredients, but I think you get the picture. This is pure indulgence. It is a slow cooked creation that is as good as it gets when it comes to comfort food. There is a good reason why it’s a classic and this version is a crowd pleaser.
There are only a few ingredients, so begin by looking for some starchy potatoes, like a Russet or Idaho Potato. The starchy texture will add to the creaminess of the whole dish and prevent the cream from separating. To ensure the potatoes cook evenly, you will want to slice up the potatoes nice and thin. This may be a good time to break out a mandolin if you have one, but a sharp knife and a steady hand will do the trick too.
Now onto the cheese. For this recipe I knew I had to use Cabot Creamery Vermont Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese Deli Bar. This cheese has been aged for a full year and doesn’t hold back. It has a bold flavor and firm texture that is ideal for this dish. It is no surprise that this amazing Cheddar is award winning. You can really taste the care and commitment in every bite.
Did you know that Cabot Creamery is a farmer owned co-op with over 800 farm families throughout New England and New York? The term farm to table has become so popular lately and they are a true example of it. They have been operating since 1919 and I appreciate the daily dedication and love that each farm brings to their products.
CHEDDAR POTATO GRATIN
2 1/2 pounds peeled potatoes, Russet or Idaho
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. Pour the heavy cream, garlic and thyme in a saucepan and bring to a low boil. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
Using a mandolin or sharp knife, cut the potatoes into 1/8 inch slices. Place the potato slices in a large bowl. Remove the garlic and thyme from the cream and season with salt and pepper. Pour the cooled cream mixture and 2/3 of the grated cheese over the potato slices and gently stir so every slice is evenly coated.
Dot the bottom of a casserole dish with the butter. Start with a stack of potatoes and place them edge side down into the dish. Continue until the entire dish is filled and the potatoes are tucked in tightly. Pour the remaining cream mixture evenly over the potato slices. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Bake for another 40-45 minutes until golden brown and the potatoes are tender. Cool slightly before serving.