Friday, February 19, 2010

Perfect Potatoes au Gratin

From: Ree Drummond "The Pioneer Woman"

Is there even such a thing as “bad” potatoes au gratin? I really don’t think there is. And that makes the title of this recipe even more weighty.

This is a very basic, but exceedingly delicious, version of the much-beloved side dish.

russet potatoes
heavy cream
whole milk, flour
softened butter
sharp cheddar.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, then scrub the potatoes so they’re very clean. We’re going to include the peel in this dish.

Slice the potatoes—not too thick, not too thin.
Stack ‘em up as you go…

And cut the stacks into fourths.

Soon you’ll have a positively prodigious pile of potato pieces. 

Now, in a bowl mix together the cream… The milk…
And the flour. This will add just a little bit of body and thickness to the creamy sauce. 

Now peel some cloves of garlic. You can use as few as two…but I’m a maniac and use four.

Just be aware that four cloves in this recipe will result in a really garlicky flavor. I happen to love this, but it might be a little strong for some.  Add the garlic to the bowl…

Followed by the salt and the pepper. Don’t skimp on the pepper! You’ll regret it if you do.

Whisk it all together until it’s totally combined.

Now smear softened butter all over a baking dish.  Meantime, grate a good cup of cheddar cheese. Grate it yourself! It’s cheaper that way, and much, much more delicious than the pre-grated stuff.

To assemble the dish, add 1/3 of the potatoes to the buttered dish.

Pour in 1/3 of the cream mixture, stirring right before you pour to make sure the ingredients are totally mixed up.

Now repeat with another layer of potatoes…

Another third of the cream mixture…

And ending with the rest of the potatoes…

And the rest of the cream mixture.

Cover the dish with foil. Bake it for a good 30 minutes to get the potatoes started. After 30 minutes, remove the foil and continue baking for 20 minutes, or until the top is golden and bubbly.

This looks about right! The top is golden brown, and the dish is bubbling all over. (If the 20 minutes doesn’t do the trick, just up this stage by 5 or 10 minutes. You want to make sure the whole dish is very hot and bubbly—this means the potatoes are really getting the chance to get done.)

Grab the grated cheddar and sprinkle it all over the top.

Return it to the oven for about five more minutes, or until the cheese is totally melted and starting to bubble.
Perfect! And you can’t believe how my kitchen smells right now. The garlic is just intoxicating.

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