Potatoes have to be one of my favorite foods: versatile, comforting, satisfying, and cheap. I mash them, roast them, fry them, make soup out of them, but I’ve only ever been able to create a mediocre gratin.
I’m not sure why – the concept is simple enough, thin potatoes with a cream mixture poured over top then baked to perfection. Except, sometimes the cream mixture breaks, or the potatoes don’t quite get soft enough. Bleh.
Last night, however, I finally nailed it! All it took was marrying the concept of parboiling with the cheese sauce I use for the base to my potato soup
. Et voilà!
- 8 small to medium potatoes (white or red-skinned work best)
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 4 tablespoons butter + a little to butter your baking dish
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt + extra for sprinkling
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper + extra for sprinkling
- 3 cups whole milk or half-and-half (don’t go with less fat)
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese + extra for sprinkling
InstructionsPreheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 2.5 quart baking dish and set aside.Fill a large pot with water. Peel the potatoes and slice them super thin – if you have a mandolin, now’s the time to get it out! Put the sliced potatoes into the pot, add the salt, and bring to a boil. Cook for three minutes, drain the potatoes, and run them under cold water for 1 minute to halt the cooking process.Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onions, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon garlic salt, and 1 tablespoon parsley. Sauté until they become translucent, about 8 minutes.Add the flour, stir to combine, then let the mixture cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes (this helps take the flour taste out). Whisk in the milk, turn heat to medium-high, and continue whisking until the mixture starts to thicken and bubble. Remove from heat. Stir in the cheese until it’s smooth, then set aside while you get the potatoes ready.Place a layer of potato slices in the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle garlic salt, parsley and pepper on top, then spread 1/4 cup of the cheese sauce over the potatoes. Add another layer of potatoes, sprinkle garlic salt, parsley and pepper on top, then add 1/4 cup of cheese sauce. Repeat the steps until your potatoes are gone, or you reach 1″ below the top of your baking dish. Pour the remaining cheese sauce on top, and sprinkle with cheddar cheese.Bake covered for 40 minutes, then uncover and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before plating.Makes enough for 6-8 servings (and some seriously yummy leftovers!)