Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Meatless Week: Going gratin.

Meatless Week continues, despite my current and intense craving for a ShackBurger. Damn you, Serious Eats. Anyhoo, let's talk gratin.

Anyone who thinks potato gratin is a lot of work is sorely mistaken, and likely missing out on one of life's great simple pleasures. Yes, there's some peeling and slicing involved, but that's not so bad when you consider the immeasurable return: creamy, stinky-with-cheese potatoes. Very little is more satisfying, in my opinion.

Over the weekend, I decided I'd make a little gratin with some gorgeous gold and purple potatoes I picked up at the Greenmarket. I grabbed a bottle of Ronnybrook's Creamline milk and thought I'd just go ahead and use some of the Pecorino left over from my escarole and walnut salad to finish things off.

The method I used is called dauphinois, which basically means you cook the potatoes with the liquid (stock, cream or milk) and seasonings (just garlic, in this case) in a small saucepan ahead of pour the lot into a buttered dish. The result? Your potatoes are done cooking just when your cheese is perfectly browned, and are soft and silky, not dry and crumbly. Works like a charm, every time.

I typically work off of The Gourmet Cookbook's Gratin Dauphinois recipe, improvising here and there when need be. This version turned out to be wonderfully smelly, with the garlic, Pecorino and touch of Parmesan combining to make a terribly fragrant dish. All in all, I judged it to be a success, and a perfect warm counterpart to that salad.

Potato Gratin with Pecorino and Garlic
Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook

1 lb. Yukon Gold (or similarly waxy) potatoes, peeled.
1 cup whole milk
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano, coarsely grated
1 tbs. Parmesan, coarsely grated

Place the oven rack in the middle of the oven and pre-heat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice the potatoes as thin as you possibly can and place them in a medium saucepan. Add the milk, garlic, salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to the boil, then remove from heat.

Meanwhile, generously butter a small gratin dish. Once the potato mixture has boiled, pour it into the prepared gratin dish. As soon as the oven is fully heated, sprinkle the cheese and nutmeg over the top of the potato mixture. Place the gratin dish in the oven.

Bake the gratin for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the top is brown and bubbly. Remove from the oven and let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Serves three as a side dish.

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