Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Best Potato Casserole I've Had
We have heat people! Summer is finally here...and right on time. Should be over 95 today and the tomatoes are loving it. The beans, cukes, and chard are growing rapidly...you can almost see them get bigger as you watch. The morning glories are blooming and sending up long runners and the sweet peas are climbing, too, but I worry that this heat might be more than they like...we'll see. Although I love being in the garden, sometimes its fun to be in the kitchen. For Father's dinner I made a casserole the day before (when it was cooler) to reheat just before dinnertime.
Being Irish...well half Irish anyway...I figure that loving potatoes is a right of heritage. Although I love 'em baked and mashed and oven fried for a casserole of potatoes my favorite recipe is a gratin of potatoes with Gruyere cheesed called Pommes Savoyard.
Thinly sliced peeled potatoes are layered with a butter-onion-garlic mixture, salt and pepper, nutmeg and Gruyere cheese, then bathed in chicken or beef broth and baked until the potatoes are tender and the top is golden brown. Because you are not using a large amount of butter and are using no milk or cream this dish is easier on the waistline than some potato casseroles. Whenever I serve it there are always requests for second helpings and most people also request the recipe. I wish I could sit you down at my table and give you those first and second helpings, but since I can't I can at least give you the recipe so you can impress and please YOUR friends and family!
If you have a food processor with the slicing disc for thin slices, this is the time to use it. You can also use the grating disc to grate the cheese. I used pre-sliced Swiss cheese because that's what I had on hand, so I used a sharp knife to cut it into tiny dice. Even without the food processor this is a pretty easy recipe but you do need to allow plenty of time for it to cook to mellow tenderness.
3 all-purpose potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled ( I used Idahos)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons finely minced onion (I used about twice this amount...I love onions)
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper to taste
nutmeg, freshly grated if possible
1/2 cup grated Gruyere or Swiss cheese (about 2 ounces)
1 cup beef broth or chicken broth (I used a bit more -see note below -and used chicken broth)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Peel potatoes and slice them 1/8-inch thick. (Rinse in cold water, then drain and pat dry with paper towels - this part I skipped and it came out fine, but you can do it if you like).
Combine the butter, onion and garlic. Use on third of the mixture to grease a shallow 1 quart baking dish. (A shallow dish is important so that you get plenty of browned topping!)
Spread half of the potatoes in a dish, and season to taste with salt and pepper and nutmeg.
Sprinkle half of the cheese over the potatoes. (I made a single layer of potatoes over the initial butter mixture, seasoned it and sprinkled on about 1/4 of the cheese, then put in a second single layer and treated it as I did the first layer, repeated that process until there were no more potatoes to layer...about 4 layers).
Arrange the remaining potato slices in an even layer over the cheese; season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Top with the remaining cheese.
Pour the broth over all and dot with the remaining butter mixture. Note: I made sure that the broth comes up almost to the top of the layered potatoes so that they will cook evenly throughout...you may need to use more broth than the recipe calls for but it is worth it and the broth cooks into the potatoes and cooks off so the potatoes keep their shape and are not soggy, so it's OK.
Bake for 1 1/4 hours, or until the potatoes are tender throughout and golden brown on top. Serves 4 - 6.