Sunday, November 20, 2011
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.
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.