- 3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
Place rack in center of oven and preheat to 400°F. Generously butter 13x9x2-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Whisk crème fraîche and whipping cream in medium bowl to blend.
Arrange 1/3 of potato slices in bottom of prepared baking dish, overlapping slightly. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon thyme. Drop 1/3 of crème fraîche mixture (about generous 1/2 cup) in dollops over potatoes, then spread evenly over (layer will be very thin). Repeat layering 2 more times.
Bake gratin 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F and continue to bake until potatoes are tender and top is golden brown, about 25 minutes longer. Let gratin rest 20 minutes before serving. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover loosely with foil. Let stand at room temperature. Before serving, rewarm in 350°F oven until heated through, about 15 minutes.
Milk vs. Cream
As a gratin bakes, there are two actions that are producing the creamy filling. Firstly, the potatoes release some of their starches, which thicken the surrounding liquid. Secondly, the dairy reduces—some of its liquid is absorbed by the potato while the rest slowly evaporates. As the liquid in the dairy is reduced, protein and fat is left behind, forming creamy curds throughout.
In the testing, I found that too much cream breaks during the cooking, coating the potato slices in a slick of fat and masking their earthy flavor. On the other hand, gratins made completely with milk were dry and filled with crumbly curds. The combination of the two produced the best result. I found that a higher ratio of milk than cream added just enough fat to produce extra silky curds without becoming too rich. I also tested a batch with evaporated milk, fully expecting an even better result due to its inherently high concentration of protein, only to find no difference in the final dish. Since I prefer to use fresh ingredients, I decided to stick with regular milk instead.
Some old cookbooks recommend the addition of a whole egg or yolk into the dairy mixture. Even the smallest amount of egg resulted in the gratin setting up with the brittle texture of a flan. It sliced well, but I preferred the soft and supple texture of the gratin without egg over picture-perfect serving portions. If the latter is what you're after, the addition of half a yolk to the milk and cream mixture is enough to achieve a clean slice.
- 2 shallots, diced
- 1/4 cup butter, divided
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped chives
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
- 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes
- 2 cups milk
- 1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) shredded Gruyère cheese
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375°. Sauté shallots in 3 Tbsp. melted butter in a saucepan over medium heat 2 minutes. Stir in cream and next 5 ingredients cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat cool 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel and thinly slice all potatoes. Combine sliced potatoes and milk in a large, microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and microwave at HIGH 5 minutes. Uncover and gently stir mixture. Re-cover and microwave 5 more minutes. Drain mixture, discarding milk.
Layer one-third of Yukon gold potatoes in a well-greased (with butter) 9- x 13-inch baking dish top with one-third of sweet potatoes. Spoon one-third of cream mixture over potatoes, and sprinkle with 1/2 cup Gruyère cheese. Repeat layers twice, and top with Parmesan cheese. Cut remaining 1 Tbsp. butter into small pieces, and dot over top. Cover with foil.
Bake at 375° for 30 minutes. Uncover bake 20 minutes or until browned. Let stand 10 minutes.
How to say potato gratin!
Gratin, based on its French definition, is a dish with a browned crust. This crust is usually in the form of bread crumbs, grated cheese, eggs or butter. For a golden potato gratin, I like to use lots of butter and cheese.
Like it's sister dish, Potatoes au Gratin, we Americans really mess up the fancy French pronunciation. First, gratin isn't pronounced "grotten." Say it with an "a" sound for the "i" like "grautan." Well, that's the closest I can get without pulling out the dictionary and adding all the sound annotations!
Golden Potatoes are soft in texture and easy to cook with.
The best potatoes to use for Au Gratin
Choose a medium-sized waxy type of potato like Yukon gold or gold for au gratin. Once cooked the flesh has a nice buttery texture, but it holds its shape well when scooping out each serving. Russets are my second choice because, with their delicate texture, they tend to absorb the sauce and become too creamy. I prefer to use Russet potatoes for mashed potatoes instead.
Cut the leek in half lengthwise and rinse thoroughly to remove any grit, then thinly slice crosswise (you should have a tleast 2 cups). In a medium saucepan, melt 3 tbsp. butter over medium heat. Add the leeks, then stir in 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Cover and cook over medium heat (lower the heat if the leeks are browniing), stirring, until tender, about 7 minutes let cool.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and lightly grease a 9-inch square baking dish. Using a food processor fitted with the slicing disk, slice the potatoes, then the beets. Rinse the potato slices with cold water and pat dry on a kitchen towel. Transfer the potatoes and beets to a large bowl and toss to mix. Arrange one-third evenly in the prepared baking dish. Spoon half of the leeks evenly on top and sprinkle with 2 tbsp. flour. Make another layer with half of the remaining potatoes and beets and the remaining leeks and 2 tbsp. flour. Top with the remaining potatoes and beets.
In a glass measuring cup, mix the broth and half-and-half pour evenly over the casserole. Cover snugly with foil and bake until the vegetables are tender, about 1 hour 15 minutes.
Melt the remaining 2 tsp. butter and toss with the bread cubes. Crumble the goat cheese and sprinkle on top of the gratin along with the bread cubes. Bake uncovered until golden, about 15 minutes. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Thyme and Yukon Gold Potato Gratin
Any time a gratin is on the table, dinner is kind of a holiday.
There are few things prettier than the creamy filling of a gratin bubbling up around the edges of the pan, and peeking between the browned slices on top.
I have a recipe for a potato gratin in my last cookbook, Dinner Solved!, that I firmly stand by. Here is another that I firmly stand by. I plan to come up with more recipes for this dish that I firmly stand by, because I am committed to reminding all of us why gratins are one of the best things that could ever happen to a potato, ever.
This is a rich gratin, made with all cream, no milk, or even half and half. I’m not apologizing, just explaining. In general I like my indulgent dishes flat out indulgent, and my healthier food in the form of broiled fish, or salads.
And I don’t have a problem with the two sharing a plate. This gratin, for instance would be lovely next to a piece of roasted or sautéed salmon with a peppery green salad alongside the both. But of course it’s a perfect holiday dish, sidled up alongside a roasted and carved turkey or roast beef or a fall-apart pork shoulder.
If you have a mandoline, and the inclination to use it, please do, and you will get lovely paper thin slices that will result in a sultry and elegantly stratified gratin. If not, use the slicing blade in your food processor or a sharp knife the slices will likely not be as thin, but that’s a-ok.
Any time a gratin is on the table, dinner is kind of a holiday.Tweet This
Other Gratin Recipes to Know and Love:
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I was first introduced to broth-based potato gratins as a young chef at Boston’s historic Parker House restaurant. We served them often because diners loved them, and their straightforward composition—potatoes, thyme, chicken broth, onions, and cheese—complemented everything from roast chicken to standing rib roast.
Years later, I still make this kind of gratin at home and at work. I like the fact that you can put it together quickly with items that are usually on hand, yet it’s also elegant enough for a formal dinner party. The soft, layered potatoes and crisp Gruyère crust create a rich side dish that’s also relatively light—compared to a traditional creamy gratin. That’s a welcome thing around the holidays, when heavy foods are seemingly everywhere.
Russets and a rest are the keys to perfect texture
To punch up the flavor of canned chicken broth, I brown onions and then add the broth to them to infuse it and to pick up the caramelized juices on the bottom of the pan. The browned onions (a quick version of caramelized onions) give depth to the broth, and they’re easy to make. I sauté sliced onions over medium heat to soften them then I raise the heat to high and stir rapidly until they brown and sweeten, about 15 minutes total cooking time.
Russet potatoes are a good fit for this gratin. Their starchiness helps bind the layers and is a good base for absorbing the flavorful broth. To make slicing the wobbly potatoes easier, I first take a thin slice off their bottoms so that they rest flat against the cutting board, and then cut them into thin disks, between 1/8 and 1/16 inch thick.
After baking the gratin, let it sit for 20 minutes before cutting so it has a chance to set. This cooling period allows the potatoes to soak up the remaining broth and the layers to tighten up, so you can slice perfect square pieces. The resting period also gives you a chance to finish your other dinner preparations.
Let the gratin cool for a while before slicing.
Other flavors, as you like
This gratin is delicious as it is, but you can certainly dress it up. Adding bacon and sautéed bell peppers, a nod to the classic potatoes O’Brien, lends a meaty sweetness. You can substitute chopped parsley or chives for the thyme or add oven-roasted tomatoes, fresh rosemary, and olives for a more robust version. You could also use a different cheese for the Gruyère if you like. Monterey Jack or a good aged Cheddar work well, though you may want to add them halfway through baking, as they melt more quickly than Gruyère.
Golden Potato Gratin - Recipes
I learned a trick from a chef in culinary school that never fails to make a well-seasoned, perfectly cooked, and beautifully golden gratin. Potato gratins are often baked entirely in the oven, but by first simmering the sliced potatoes on the stovetop in milk and cream, the starch is activated and this jump-starts the cooking process, ensuring an evenly baked gratin and offering you the opportunity to adjust the seasoning before it goes in the oven. I love to use any good-flavored cheese and urge you to use a high-quality Gruyère, Tomme de Savoie, or Comté. Because potatoes take on the flavors in the dish you are making, the cheese’s unique flavor will come through. Leeks are a natural with potato, and the nutmeg adds just a hint of warmth. A potato gratin is fit for a crowd, as it can be made ahead and is impressive looking. If it’s just for a family supper, leftovers are always relished. It’s not possible to make too much.
Because the texture and starchiness of the potato are key to the gratin’s success, use russets.
If making the gratin ahead, be aware that potatoes will soak up any residual liquid (the same holds for mashed potatoes). To make ahead, use 1/2 cup more liquid than when you serve it straight out of the oven.
High quality cheese and russet potatoes make this gratin golden, perfectly cooked, and completely leftover-worthy--if there is any left over.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Prepare a 3-qt gratin dish by rubbing the inside surface first with the cut garlic and then coating with the butter.
- Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the leek or onion and cook, stirring often, until tender but not yet browned, about 3 minutes.
- Add the potatoes, milk, cream, garlic, nutmeg, and salt to the pot with the cooked leek or onion and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once at a boil, decrease the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring continuously. The starch in the potatoes will begin to thicken the milk and cream. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese. Transfer the potato mixture to the gratin dish. Level the surface. Taste the liquid and season with more salt, if necessary (depending on the saltiness of the cheese).
- Scatter the cheese evenly over the top of the gratin. (The unbaked, assembled gratin can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days or tightly wrapped and frozen for up to 3 months.)
- Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the cheese on top is nicely browned and bubbling. If baking the gratin from the refrigerator or freezer, let it come to room temperature first and then bake. Let cool slightly before serving.
Reprinted with permission from Tartine All Day: Modern Recipes for the Home Cook by Elisabeth Prueitt, copyright © 2017. Published by Lorena Jones Books/Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.