That is one fancy name for a dish of humble potatoes, isn't it? Here's the thing though. These potatoes deserve it. Yes, this is a rustic dish, but the end result is nothing short of spectacular. I don't use that word lightly either. I love potatoes. I am a total meat-n-potatoes kind of girl. All that said, if I could only have my potatoes one way for the rest of my life, it would be this dish.The really intriguing thing that caught my eye about this dish is the fact that it looks deceptively cheesey. Why deceptively? Well, because there is no cheese in this at all. It is made with just a few simple ingredients, like the very best of recipes are, and the incredible texture and creaminess comes from just cream and butter. Add to that some really good potatoes, some garlic, some salt and pepper and that covers the ingredient list. Awesome.
In fact, I loved this dish so much when we had it for the Hubs birthday, along with that Pepper Steak and Glazed Mushrooms, that I was determined to get some kind of slicer to make cutting the potatoes faster and easier for me (I cut them all by hand for the dish above, so you don't have to have a special tool for this... it is just a bonus).
When I visited this great little kitchen store, locally owned and operated, I found a great deal on this little Zyliss 4-in-1 tool. It was an added bonus that this tool had the two grater plates as well as the two sizes of slicer plates, because, frankly, if I wanted to grate cheese before now, all I had was my big food processor, which is such overkill to have to clean up for a small amount.
I did have a different grater, but I also have two little boys who like to play - a little too rough - with my kitchen tools sometimes. It was one of those kind where there is a plastic piece and no grater - well they snapped the handle plastic part in half. Great. Not grate anymore. Just a sarcastic great. Yeah. I went there. You know me and my bad jokes.
Anyway, this kitchen store, aptly named The Kitchen Store 3, is in a small shopping area in a very busy location, but, thanks to the economy, like most other independently owned businesses, is struggling to keep afloat, which is a real shame, because it is the type of place where you can actually feel really comfortable shopping and looking around through all the fun tools, dishes, appliances and various kitchen gear. In fact, the owner even turned on a movie for my boys to relax and watch while I shopped a bit! It is these kinds of places that we need to help in this economy to help keep the dreams and passions of those that love cooking and food and baking just as much as we do!
So, if you live in the Salt Lake area, you know it isn't far to go to hop on over to check out their store if there is something you are looking for or just to go and check it out and see what surprises might be waiting there for you. They are located at 7800 S and Redwood Road, in the little shopping area where the Gold's Gym is located.
They also have FREE cooking classes a couple of times a week in a really nice little kitchen area in the store, so you should check out their schedule here and plan to attend some classes. They have posted the recipes on their blog from some of the classes already if you missed it!
So, back to these potatoes, I can't think of a better way to describe them than the information provided in the book I got the recipe from, so, here you go (and I dare you not to be intrigued and completely tempted by this description...):
"A Classic Gratin: This potato gratin hails from the Dauphine region of eastern France. It is easy to make, but some special touches are necessary. First, the sliced potatoes mush be rinsed or soaked and then dried well, to remove excess starch that would make the dish gummy. Salt should be added with a generous hand, and plenty of butter and cream should be poured in to achieve a silky, unctuous quality. Cheese is not necessary, as the flavor of the crusty potatoes should dominate. If possible, choose a rustic ceramic baking dish that reflects this recipe's homey character."
Source: Williams-Sonoma Vegetable
5 large russet potatoes, about 2 1/2 lb total weight, peeled (I actually used 2 1/2 lbs of Yukon Gold potatoes)
3-5 cloves garlic, chopped, plus 1 clove, halved (optional)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons at room temperature
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Cut the potatoes crosswise into 1/8-inch thick slices. Slide the potatoes slices as you cut them to a large bowl with cold water (enough to cover all the potatoes when you are done). Let the potatoes soak for at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.
Center a rack in the upper third of your oven and preheat it to 325 degrees F. Place a baking sheet on the rack below to catch any drips. Rub the bottom and sides of a 2-qt baking dish with the halved garlic clove (if you are using it), then butter the dish with 2 tablespoons of the room temperature butter.
Drain the potato slices and dry them well with a clean kitchen towel. Cut the 4 tablespoons of butter into small pieces. Arrange a layer of the potato slices in the baking dish, sprinkle with some salt and pepper, then dot with pieces of butter, and add a light scattering of the chopped garlic, if using. Repeat the layering until all the potatoes are used, seasoning each layer as you go along. Reserve some of the butter for the top of the gratin. The potatoes should reach no higher than within 1/2-inch of the rim of the dish. Pour the cream evenly over the potatoes. Dot bits of butter across the top and sprinkle the top with some salt and pepper.
Cover the gratin with foil and bake until the potatoes are translucent and the cream is bubbling, 30-40 minutes. Uncover and bake until the top is crusty and the potatoes are completely tender when pierced with a knife, about 30 minutes more. If it seems dry, baste the top occasionally with the liquid in the dish. Serve at once, directly from the baking dish. You can sprinkle the gratin with chopped fresh parsley right before serving, if desired.