Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday suppers

Cold weather, premature darkness, a looming week. The antidote: potato gratin.

There are a million ways to go about this. The only essential ingredient is the potato, any potato, I don't care what the experts say. The only essential technique, slicing them thinly and layering them. After that, wing it.

For this version I buttered a pan very lightly, layered the potatoes, sprinkling a little salt and pepper all the way. I sliced a garlic clove very thinly, too, and flecked the pieces through the potato layers, leaving no garlic on top (it would burn and turn bitter). I had some leftover sour cream, I had milk. I mixed the cream in the milk and poured it over the potatoes to reach the top layer. I cut up half a tablespoon of butter and dotted this over the top. Into the oven for an hour at 425'F. It's ready when brown and crackly on top.

That's all.

You could also:

- Substitute yams, using orange and lime juice with a dribble of maple syrup as the cooking liquid.
- Use just water as the cooking liquid, for more austere version. Don't leave out the butter, though.
- Use chicken or beef stock as the cooking liquid (cut back on the salt you add)
- Add 3 bay leaves under the next to last layer of potatoes.
- Infuse boiled milk with bay and garlic for 10 minutes before straining them out and using the milk only.
- Grate some very good cheddar and sprinkle it between layers.
- Strew thyme leaves upon every layer.
- Add cubes of pancetta.
- Alternate slices of late season tomatoes with potato layers.
- Make a nest in the potatoes towards the end and add an egg or two, and cook for another 5 minutes.

It's the perfect time of year for chewy salad greens, juicy apples and creamy feta. Use them together. Add a dollop of yogurt and a whisper of mustard to your vinaigrette.

Pour a glass of wine. Dare the week ahead to do its damnedest.


  1. Oh God Marie, I'm afraid to damn it to do it's worst....

    Don't know if there are enuf potatoes in the world to hold back the oncoming floods.

    xo J.

  2. Jane, you have stumbled upon the immutable Law of Potato:

    You Can Never Have Enough Potatoes.

  3. Oh my, that looks superb - perfectly browned on top.

    When I lived in England I cooked on an Aga and used to make the version with chicken stock. Very thinly sliced potatoes and about three hours in the medium oven. It was so good.

  4. Agreed. Potato gratin is one of the best (and easiest) comfort foods out there. I like to add leeks or shallots as well.


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