Thursday, April 7, 2011
A friend of mine has this cooking rule that never made much sense to me: don't spend more time preparing a dish than you do eating it. Uh. If I followed that rule, we'd pretty much never have any food.
I'm pretty fast in the kitchen. I can peel and slice a potato - almost as well as a mandoline can - in a minute or three. When I get home from work late and have four whining hungry kids begging for food, I can get dinner on the table pretty quickly.
But it still takes me longer to prepare the food than it does to eat it. So I'm thinking. Maybe the problem is that I eat too fast. Maybe I need to chew more. Relax and enjoy the flavors and tastes of the fruits of my labor. Put my feet up while I savor the taste of my home cooked food.
I'll have to try that sometime. Maybe when my kids are married off. In the meantime, though, I'm resigned to spending more time cooking than I do eating. The good news is that I enjoy my time in the kitchen. I like peeling, chopping, and sauteing.
Now, my disclaimer. This recipe isn't super speedy. You've got to peel a few potatoes and then slice them super thin. But it's brainless work. Good for when you just need a relaxed 20 minutes in the kitchen. And it makes a super rich, elegant, classy dish that will be a hit with adults and kids alike. Oh, and a bonus - it's Kosher for Passover! (I plan to make this for one of our dairy lunch meals.)
Potato Cheese Gratin
Serves 4-6; about 1 hour 15 minutes prep
Vary the cheese to your liking. This would be amazing and more adult with Swiss cheese. I used half mozzarella and half cheddar and it was perfect.
1 tablespoon butter
3 lb. Idaho potatoes, peeled
1 cup heavy cream (the real, dairy stuff, please)
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheese, like cheddar, mozzarella, swiss, parmesan or a combination
salt and pepper
Heat the oven to 375*. Put the butter into a large glass baking dish and let it melt - but not brown - in the oven.
Meanwhile, heat the cream and milk on the stove or in the microwave. Get it nice and hot but try not to let it come to a boil.
Slice the potatoes as thin as you can. Sure, you can use a mandoline if you have one. (Hey, no need to rub it in!)
When the butter is melted, remove the pan from the oven and spread the butter all around the bottom. Create a nice cozy layer of potatoes along the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper, and with about half the cheese. Add another layer of potatoes, season, and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese. Add a third layer of potatoes. Now, pour the hot cream over the potatoes.
Bake the gratin, uncovered for about 50 minutes, until the potatoes are nice and cooked and everything is melted and bubbling. Serve immediately or allow to come to room temperature before refrigerating and putting away for later. (If you put it away, you should rewarm it before serving.)