It’s almost mid-January, and there’s nothing better than a hearty dish on a cold winter’s day. When you’re super duper hungry (try to think back of such a time if it’s been a while), what do you immediately crave? A juicy carrot? An apple? I think not!
You most likely crave something with fat that is hearty and satisfying, like your mother’s chicken soup, or a juicy leg of pastured lamb, a hearty bowl of vegetarian chili, or some potatoes layered with cream and cheese … mmm. A delicious memory of that last one – the potatoes with cream and cheese – somehow nudged me in my dreams the other night, and I was inspired to replicate it at home. I couldn’t quite remember where I’ve had it, but it had registered in my brain as something I should definitely making. When the Advent fast was over, and we celebrated Christmas in my household, I made this dish for a potluck at my uncle’s and it was a hit!
There is some ‘controversy’ in the foodie community about the “correct” name for this dish – is it scalloped potatoes or is it potatoes au gratin? I did a little bit of Googling, and found that many people use the terms interchangeably, though technically ‘au gratin’ has grated cheese on top and is lightly browned, whereas the scalloped potatoes do not have any cheese. Technicalities! In this case, I decided to name the dish Scalloped Potatoes au Gratin because the potatoes are cut into thin slices, made with cream and milk, and topped with cheese. So it’s a fusion of the two recipes, and I found that they get along very well together. It’s a pretty rich dish, but it’s bowl-lickin’ good!
Since this isn’t a recipe I grew up making, nor is it one that is traditional in Egyptian households, I had to read a few others’ versions of it before I could come up with my own ingredient list and method. This version, from Real Simple was pretty much what I had in mind, but it lacked a little bit of ‘character’ so I added the fresh thyme and ground nutmeg for a little extra flavor. I was going to go with just the sauteed onions, until I came across this recipe from The Brown-Eyed Baker, which also includes some minced garlic. And because I genuinely feel that garlic and potatoes are meant to be together, I added that in as well.
I’ve made this recipe twice so far, and the results come out almost identical both times – a good sign! The creaminess in every bite will fill you up and warm you up on a cold day in a way that almost no other dish can (other than soups, which are awesome at this time of year!)
A note about potatoes: It’s wise to opt for organic potatoes, because conventional potatoes have some of the highest pesticide residues among all crops. Check out this site, “What’s on my Food?” to get an idea of the pesticide content of different foods. Here’s the one for potatoes.
Without further ado, here’s the recipe below, courtesy of Recipage, which now allows embedding of the printable recipe right within the post. That’s right: you can simply click “Print” below to get an awesome print-out of this recipe to bring to the kitchen. (I know from experience that bringing the laptop/phone to the kitchen to follow a recipe ain’t the best idea… trust me on that one!)
Scalloped Potatoes au Gratin
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Keywords: bake simmer entree side gluten-free nut-free soy-free sugar-free vegetarian potato French winter
Ingredients (Serves 8-10)
- 8 medium organic Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped and sauteed in ghee
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced and added to the onion saute
- 2 tablespoons grass-fed ghee, plus more for the baking dish
- 2 cups whole grass-fed milk
- 1 cup grass-fed heavy cream (or if you don’t have cream on hand, just add an extra cup of whole milk)
- 1 bay leaf, crushed
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon organic ground nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons unrefined mineral salt (like Himalayan, which I buy online here)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- about 1 cup of grated grass-fed Gruyère or Dubliner Irish cheese, shredded on top
(1) Wash, peel and chop potatoes: Wash the potatoes under running water, peel them and slice them into 1/8 inch pieces.
(2) Chop and saute onion and garlic: In a large pot, chop 1 yellow onion and mince 2-3 cloves of garlic and saute them in 2 tablespoons of grass-fed ghee until they have released their aroma and have turned a golden color.
(3) Add other ingredients to the pot: Add all chopped potatoes, and the rest of the ingredients with the exception of the grated cheese (2 cups milk, 2 cups cream, teaspoon of fresh thyme, 1 crushed bay leaf, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 2 teaspoons unrefined mineral salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper).
(4) Bring to a boil and simmer: Stir well and bring to a boil. Quickly lower the heat before it spills over, and continue simmering until potatoes have cooked – about 30 minutes.
(5) Add to a baking dish and bake: Grease 9×13 inch baking dish with a bit of ghee, then pour the potatoes into the dish. Grate about a cup’s worth of cheese (I used the Irish Dubliner) on top, and bake in a 350F oven for 15 minutes. You may wish to brown the top a little by broiling for an additional 3-5 minutes.