Friday, April 25, 2008

Uughh... rotten potatoes!

Actually, that's potatoes Au gratin but shortly after we were married, my husband told me that he always said, "ugh, rotten potatoes" about them when he was growing up. Boys!

Also shortly after my husband and I were married, I started to experiment with making potatoes Au gratin. I must confess that some of my tries did qualify as uggh, rotten potatoes. Many times the potatoes weren't cooked through or the cheese sauce didn't really come together in the pan, prompting me to make a cheese sauce to cook the potatoes in which resulted in something more like cheese soup with potatoes... Some of my experiments were better but never really perfect, you know? Until this recipe.

My husband hardly ever offers unsolicited comments about food when I serve it to him. I usually have to ask, "how's the soup?" or "what do you think of this rice?" etc... Not to say that my husband doesn't appreciate my cooking, I think he is honestly a little spoiled that we are going to have a home cooked dinner 98% of the time and that 98% of the time it will be good. So, I knew I had a total winner when after one bite of these potatoes, Mr. Anderson said, "these are good... I like them, they are really neat!" Neat was referring to the bread topping and how crispy it makes the potatoes. I was so proud I may have wiped a tear.

On a complete side note, I think I want to learn how to filet crochet.

Here's the recipe for the potatoes. It and the photo are from Cooks Illustrated.

4 cloves of garlic, 1 clove cut in half, remaining cloves minced
1 tablespoon of butter at room temperature
1 cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 ½ cups of heavy cream
1 ½ cups of good quality chicken broth
1 teaspoon of dried thyme leaves
1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
½ teaspoon of cracked black pepper
4 to 5 medium russet potatoes, thinly sliced
4 slices of good, thick white bread torn into pieces

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Use cut side of halved garlic to rub sides and bottom of 2-quart shallow baking or gratin dish. Allow garlic in dish to dry briefly, about 2 minutes, then coat dish with softened butter. Combine cheeses in small bowl. Bring minced garlic, cream, broth, thyme, nutmeg, salt, and pepper to boil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until liquid is reduced to 2 1/2 cups, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and gently stir in potatoes. Spoon half of potato mixture into prepared dish. Sprinkle with half of cheese, add remaining potato mixture, and press with spatula to compact. Press the bread pieces into the casserole. Bake 40 minutes. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and continue baking until golden and bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest 20 minutes before serving.

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