Two Potato Gratin with Herbs and Goat Cheese
As those of you who hang here on the reg may remember, for the past five years, I’ve dreamt up a new festive side for my friend Annie to make at her family’s Thanksgiving. The Blaines generally do a potluck-style dinner with each family member being responsible for one dish. I’ve always found this strange, mostly because the concept of anyone in my family (except my mother) cooking is deeply hilarious. I’m literally chortling at my desk right now thinking about my brother wrestling with a raw turkey. Or my dad turning on the oven. On the whole, the Wolfs aren’t overly domestic…
Anyhoo, I look forward to working on “Annie’s side” each November, since it’s my only excuse to get creative on the Thanksgiving front. My personal menu for the holiday has been, and shall always be, non-negotiable: Turkey, mashed potatoes, my mom’s sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, stuffing with sausage and apples, sautéed haricots verts, gravy, and Ocean Spray cranberry sauce. From the can. (Don’t judge. It’s a nostalgia thing.)
Ever since my roommate entered the picture, pigs in a blanket are typically served circa 2pm to all interested parties (read: just Logan), but that’s as far as I’m willing to go in terms of new menu additions. Sorry.
So, when Annie told me she would be spending this Thanksgiving in Italy with her family, I was sort of disappointed that she wouldn’t be requiring my fancy side development services. I went to erase “Annie Side” from my editorial calendar, but then I realized that some of you weirdos might need/be down with a new recipe for next Thursday’s feast. If that’s the case, I have really, really, ridiculously good news. I made you Two Potato Gratin with Goat Cheese and Herbs!
I’m not sure how to articulate the deliciousness of these potatoes, but I think Logan’s, “Fuck, man. These potatoes are insane,” is a decent summary.
The combo of sweet potatoes and buttery Yukon Golds soaked in herb-infused cream is dreamy on its own, but it’s the hint of tang from the goat cheese and the garlicky panko-Parmesan topping that really put it over the edge. Each bite practically melts in your mouth, and the explosion of sweet and savory flavors is, as the dude so eloquently put it, INSANE.
It’s two-tone appearance is also rather fetching, no?
I’m not gonna lie to you here, friends, this recipe isn’t going to top any “quick and easy” lists. It’s a little fussy, sure, and it will probably run you a solid hour and a half to an hour and 45 minutes from start to finish. With that said, there’s only about 35 minutes of hands-on time, the prep is pretty simple, and I promise the final product is well worth the extra effort. Please sack up.
A few tips to make your life a little easier and ensure max deliciousness:
- If you have a mandolin, use it!! Thinly slicing all the potatoes by hand is 100% doable, but it’s not exactly fun.
- Make sure your cream mixture is very well seasoned. Taste it before adding it to the potatoes—it should be on the salty side.
- Treat yo’self. I know some of you will try to lighten this up by using all milk instead of cream, or subbing low-fat or skim milk for whole. I tried that. It doesn’t work. Some things in life require a little extra fat, and that’s okay. Exercise portion control and you’ll come out of the meal unscathed.
- Yes, goat cheese haters, you can obviously use a different cheese. I recommend Gruyère, Fontina, or good old Parmesan.
- Let your gratin rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving. (It will stay very warm under foil for about half an hour.) This resting time is crucial for taste, texture (the cream mixture will continue to soak into the potatoes and firm up slightly), and avoiding the most excruciating roof of mouth burns ever.
- You can fully assemble this bad boy up to a day in advance. Just pop it in the oven about an hour and 20 minutes before you plan to sit down to dinner.
If this gratin doesn’t make it onto your Thanksgiving table, definitely keep it in mind for Chrismukkah, and all other fall/winter celebrations. It’s also pretty damn awesome eaten straight from the casserole dish on the couch. Just saying.
Two Potato Gratin with Herbs and Goat Cheese: (Serves 8)
2½ tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
½ medium yellow onion, minced
5 garlic cloves, minced (divided)
1 cup whole milk
1½ cups heavy cream
4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
4 -5 sprigs fresh rosemary
Fresh ground pepper
1½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about 3 medium potatoes), peeled and sliced into 1/8-inch discs
1½ pounds sweet potatoes (about 2 medium sweet potatoes), peeled and sliced into 1/8-inch discs
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (Feel free to use herbed goat cheese if you like!)
¼ cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs (Regular panko is also fine. Duh.)
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preparing your Two Potato Gratin with Herbs and Goat Cheese:
-Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.
-In a medium saucepan, melt 1½ tablespoons of butter over medium heat. When the butter is melted and frothy, add the onion and 4 minced garlic cloves and cook for 3-4 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent. (Be very careful not to burn the garlic, peeps!) Add the milk, cream, thyme, rosemary, and a generous amount of salt to the saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer very gently (you never, ever want the cream to boil!!) for 15 minutes to allow all those delicious flavors to mingle.
-Meanwhile, prep the potatoes. Peel the potatoes and slice them very thinly into 1/8-inch discs. If you have a mandolin, you DEFINITELY want to use it (carefully) here. Briefly set aside.
-Remove the thyme and rosemary sprigs from the cream mixture and discard. (Some of the rosemary and thyme will have detached from the sprigs. Leave those floaters!) Taste a little bit of the mixture. Add a little extra salt if needed—you want this to be on the salty side—and season with fresh ground pepper.
-Pour ½ cup of the cream mixture into the bottom of a 7×11 baking dish. (You can also use a 10- or 12-inch cast iron skillet if you don’t have a baking dish.)
-Add one third of the potatoes in an even layer. Pour another ½ cup of the cream mixture over the potatoes and sprinkle with half of the crumbled goat cheese. Top with a second layer of potatoes, followed by ½ cup cream, and the remaining goat cheese.
-Add the third and final layer of potatoes.
-Pour the remaining cream mixture over the top of your gratin.
-Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 50 minutes until the potatoes are very tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife.
-While the gratin is baking, make your crunchy topping. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in small skillet. When melted, add the remaining minced garlic clove and cook for 30-45 seconds, just until fragrant. (Don’t burn it!!) Stir in the panko and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring regularly until the panko darkens a shade in color. Transfer the topping to a bowl to cool. When cool, mix in the grated Parmesan.
-Remove the foil from the gratin. (It will look like there’s too much liquid in your gratin. Don’t panic, it’s just the right amount.) Add the panko topping in an even layer. Return the gratin to the oven for another 15 minutes until the top is crispy and browned and some of the liquid has been absorbed.
-Allow the gratin to rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving. (This is essential, friends. Be patient.)
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