Friday, April 8, 2011

Potatoes

     
     I do not generally think of myself as a potato eater. (I mean, does anyone think of themselves as a potato eater? Maybe a meat-eater or a sweet-eater, but probably not a potato eater.) Point being, I have never thought of myself as a potato eater until this week. Because I came back from Boston and the only groceries I really had at home were: milk, eggs, and potatoes. So, in this week I have eaten many forms of potatoes: boiled potatoes, roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, and the best form of all: potato gratin.


     I love potato gratin. It's so creamy and oozy and cheesy and golden brown on top. There is something about foods that are golden brown on top that just screams out THERE IS DELICIOUSNESS HIDING UNDERNEATH! EAT ME! Yes, it screams in capital letters. I have never been able to resist anything with a golden brown crust. Why would I? The only thing is that potato gratin seems such a guilty pleasure, such an unhealthy thing that you should not make in vast quantities...right?

I had to go to work before I finished slicing potatoes...hence...discolored potatoes

     Wrong. Yay for Deb at Smitten Kitchen! She makes me feel better about eating potato gratin. She says you do not need to use cream, only milk! Do you know this about me? Cream scares me. The thought that something so like milk, so delicious and wholesome and innocent looking, could possibly contain so many calories makes me run around in terrified circles all over the kitchen. I do not buy cream. And so, making gratin with milk and just a little butter makes me feel all better.


     Though, eating this still feels like a guilty pleasure. It's just so good! How could it be even kind of sort of healthy? I froze half because one cannot make every meal a potato gratin meal, even if one wants to. The joy must be spread over time. Especially after all that effort I spent slicing potatoes super thin. Sometimes, I just want to cave and buy all sorts of ridiculous kitchen things - like a mandolin. But, I remain a college student before a food blogger and so the wallet wins: I sit and slice thin slices of potato. And then I get such delicious results! That I get to eat for a long time! So really, I always win.

Potato Gratin
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

3 Large Russet Potatoes (See Note) 
1 1/2 cups Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese (i.e. Whatever Cheese You Own) 
1/3 cup Milk 
2 tbsp Butter + A little more to butter your pan 
Salt and Pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and butter an 8'' or 9'' cake pan (or an 8'' square pan/casserole dish?). Scrub your potatoes, if they are russets you don't have to peel them. Slice them as thinly as possible (use a mandolin if you have one). Lay one layer of potato slices in concentric circles on the bottom of the cake pan. Generously sprinkle on some salt and pepper. Then, sprinkle on 1/4 of your cheese. Lay on the next layer, and repeat with the salt, pepper, and cheese. Repeat once more with a layer of potatoes, salt, pepper, and cheese, and then lay on a last layer of potatoes. You should have four layers of potato total. Carefully pour in enough milk to just reach the bottom of the top layer of potatoes (use more milk than I said if you need to), and crumble the 2 tbsp of butter along the top of the potatoes. Then, put it in the oven and allow it to bake for 45 minutes. At that point, sprinkle on your remaining 1/4 of cheese. Put it back in the oven and allow it to bake for 15 more minutes until it is golden brown on top and the potatoes are soft if you stick a fork in. Then, pull it out, allow it to cool, and eat!

Note: 

Even though Deb says you should use Yukon because Russets gets floury, mine were pretty OK - so just use whatever you have! If you use Yukon then peel them. Also, instead of putting just cheese, Deb suggests sautéing mushrooms and layering those in or using other root vegetables - follow the link to her site for all her great ideas!

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