Andy Anderson !
No matter what you call this tasty dish, it's a great side for almost any main course.
I'm 1/4 Irish, and we Irish love our potatoes...
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- 2 lb
- russet potatoes (1 kg)
- 5 oz
- carrots, sliced on the bias (140g)
- 2 clove
- 1 tsp
- thyme, dried
- 2 Tbsp
- sweet butter, unsalted
- 1 c
- heavy cream
- 1 c
- parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- 1/2 c
- bread crumbs, panko
- 1 c
- gruyere cheese, freshly grated
- salt & pepper, to taste
Chef's Note: I love garlic, so I could never be a vampire. Anyway, the rubbing of the garlic around the dish, before buttering, will give the potatoes just a hint of garlic flavor.
Do the same for the carrots, but cut them on the bias.
Place the carrots and potatoes into a medium sized pot.
Chef's Note: If you don't have a mandolin, I would strongly suggest picking one up. This nifty slicer will give you beautiful and consistent slices, of just about any veggie.
Chef's Note: On the Bias. Cutting on the bias means to slice it not straight across, but at a roughly 45-degree angle. The angled cut creates an elongated, oval-shaped piece and makes for a more elegant presentation. In addition, the angled slice creates more surface area for the carrot to interact with the gratin.
Chef's Thought: Notice that when I talked about potatoes, I didn't say two or three medium potatoes... I gave a specific weight. What does medium mean... is there a definition for medium? Probably, but at the CIA we were taught to measure just about everything.
My aunt Josephine being traditional Italian (Naples) didn't measure... it was all about a pinch of this and a handful of that. When I was trying to write down one of her recipes, she threw a bunch of chopped parsley into the sauce, and I said: Aunt Josephine, how much was that?
She responded with: A handful...
I said how much is a handful?
She responded by showing me her hand, and continued cooking.
She may not have measured, in the way I was taught to measure; however, her recipes were always spot on.
She passed away at the ripe old age of 102... I miss the wonderful lady that introduced me to the world of cooking.
Chef's Note: I usually accomplish this step by using a small sauce pan, and combining all the ingredients over a medium-low burner. When the butter is melted, and the cheese is incorporated into the liquid... it's ready to be poured over the potatoes.
Chef's Note: Simmer, Boil, Rolling Boil? A gentle simmer is where there is a bubbling of the liquid, but the bubbles barley break the surface.
Chef's Note: Be careful with the stirring of the potatoes. As they cook they will soften, and break apart. Stir only to keep them from sticking, and minimize breakage.
In addition, if the burner is set too high, the potatoes will have a tendency to stick to the bottom of the pan... I HATE it when that happens. Slow and easy is the way to go.
Chef's Note: Based on the heat of the pan, this step could take 15 minutes... don't rush it... let the ingredients come together slowly with a gentle simmer.
Chef's Note: What are Panko Breadcrumbs? Panko is a Japanese-style breadcrumb traditionally used as a coating for deep-fried foods. The biggest difference between panko and standard breadcrumbs is that panko is made from bread without crusts.
Panko’s bread is coarsely ground into airy, large flakes that give foods a light, crunchy coating. In addition, the flakes tend to stay crispier longer than standard breadcrumbs because they don’t absorb as much liquid. In this recipe, they will give the gratin a bit of a crunch... That's called mouth feel.
Bake uncovered for 40 to 45m, or until potatoes are tender.
If you want a more elegant presentation, try using individual ramekins so that each guest gets their own serving...
You could always save on the calories by trying milk, as opposed to heavy cream, and butter, or even try different veggies; like broccoli.
But let me end with something from Julia Childs:
When asked by a reporter about a particular recipe she was doing that involved a lot of butter and cream.
The food reporter said: Couldn't we make this more healthy by using lower fat milk, and a butter substitute?
And Juila (my hero) smiled and responded in only the way that Julia could:
Of course you could my dear... But it wouldn't taste as good.
Keep the faith and keep cooking.