It’s April and this month's cheese calendar recipe is "Potatoes Au Gratin" (for those of you who are not familiar with the French language, it is pronounced - more or less - "potatoes aw-grat-eh" and not as indicated in the title of this post). And I’m so proud that I have beaten the end-of-the-month review publishing deadline that I had imposed upon myself.
I had a few little problems with this recipe. First and foremost was the cheese – no such animal exists on this rock – but the substitute (as suggested by Nicky) is just as good. Secondly, I did not have, nor could I find, the potatoes that were called for in the recipe. No worries – I used a ‘cousin’ spud which worked just fine. Thirdly, the size of the casserole dish seemed a little large and I thought there might have been a typo. I was so wrong. I now have a bowl full of potato slices wallowing in water in my fridge, awaiting their fate to one of my many other torturous cooking methods.
The most fretful part of this recipe is – at least for me – that it calls for “thinly sliced” ingredients. Since no one here personally knows me, I love to cook but I am an absolute klutz when it comes sharp objects, particularly knives. So to avoid possible future visits to the E.R. (which I have done
This is a very simple recipe, very tasty and would make a great side for any main entrée. So, without further adieu, I present:
Potatoes Au GratinIngredients:
- 3 tblsp butter
- 2 leeks (white and light green parts only), thinly sliced *
- 8 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced **
- 7 oz. Oka cheese ***
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a skillet, sauté leeks in butter with salt and pepper, stirring occasionally until softened – about 12 minutes. Scrape into bowl and set aside (yeah, right, like I need another dish to clean – just get it off the heat and leave it in the pan until you need it).
- Generously butter (or grease) the bottom of a 10-cup casserole dish. Layer ¼ of the potatoes along the bottom, then spread ¼ of the leek mixture on top. Repeat layering 3 times. Cover with foil.
- Bake on bottom rack of oven until potatoes are tender (about 1 and ½ hours).
- Remove (cut) rind off cheese and slice into thin pieces.
- When potatoes are tender, remove from oven, increase temperature to 450 degrees, cover potatoes with cheese.
- When the oven has reached the higher temperature, bake potatoes (uncovered) until cheese is bubbly and lightly browned, about 5 to 10 minutes.
*Sometimes leeks collect soil or sand in between their shoots (or leaves) as they grow. It has been suggested that you wash them before cooking: cut the shaft lengthwise to loosen the leaves and rinse in water. For this recipe, I used three leeks instead of two – even though they taste like onions, they aren’t nearly as strong but I liked the extra ‘oomph’.
**Since I could not find the Yukon golds, I just used red potatoes. And as for peeling them, forget about it (unless you don’t like the skins) – the skins are full of vitamin C, so just scrub your potatoes well if you don’t want to peel them.
***As I indicated, we do not get Oka cheese here but I found that Gruyere is an excellent substitute.
If you use all the potatoes called for in the recipe, you will need that larger casserole dish. Personally, I like a crispy top on such dishes and used a rectangular vessel and tried to toast the potatoes before I added the cheese. Unfortunately the visualisation électroniques foutues (pardonnez mon francais) on my oven heated up and I was unable to read the temp, resulting in slightly overcooked cheese and a overly crisp bottom (not top). I really gots to gets me a gas range. Next time I'll just use the broiler.
I vowed to myself that I would cook each recipe of the calendar as it is written (other than necessary substitutions) and so far each recipe is quite good on its own, but there is always room for tweaking if you should feel the need. I normally use onions in my potato casseroles. The leeks, though, have a milder flavour and I will probably use them more often.
Next month: Bacon Quiche (Does anyone remember, "Real Men Don't Eat Quiche"? Yeah, right. If there's bacon involved, they'll eat it!)