GRATIN POTATOES

I have made Gratin Potatoes, Potatoes au Gratin, Potatoes Dauphinois…whatever you want to call them…dozens of times. There are dozens of recipes and dozens of methods out there on how to make this. Not to be confused with Scalloped Potatoes, you know, the one your Aunt Sylvia brought to pot lucks that has onions and sometimes ham and other things In it?

Potatoes Dauphinois is a simple French dish originating in the Dauphine region of southeastern France. The potatoes, typically yellow potatoes like Yukon Gold, are sliced thin (4-5mmm about 1/8 inch), cooked in cream then baked, sometimes with a little Gruyere cheese, until golden brown (the “gratin” part). If you want to make it in the traditional old French style, you let it set at room temperature for an hour after cooking before serving so the cream will set up with the potatoes. Of course, you can simply scoop out a portion to a plate, or, using a food mold, cut out discs, then plate. Either way, Potatoes Dauphinois are a very flavorful, creamy, and elegant side dish for any entree.

There is a hint of garlic in this preparation (Infused into the cream) as there is a little Gruyere cheese…but definitely not garlic or cheese forward. It’s all about the potatoes and cream. The dish is buttered, but that’s it for the butter. A chef’s note and key to a successful Potatoes Gratin is slicing the potatoes consistently, ie, all the same thickness. If you are confident you can slice them evenly with a knife, go ahead. But, I highly recommend using a slicing attachment on a food processor, or, a mandolin like I used. The later is a dangerous, but essential kitchen tool that, if used properly and safely, will yield the best results. I always use a cutting glove or a guard. I ain’t slicing off the tips of my fingers for any recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 3.3 pounds (about 1.5 kg of Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 20 ounces of cream
  • 4 ounces of whole milk
  • 1-2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper (black pepper is OK)
  • 2 garlic cloves, thin sliced
  • About 1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyere
  • Unsalted butter for the dish

DIRECTIONS:

  • Peel the potatoes and immediately place them in a bowl of cold water so they won’t discolor.
  • Place the cream, milk, salt, pepper, sliced garlic and nutmeg in a large pot.
  • Using a mandolin or a food processor, slice the potatoes 4-5mm thick (about 1/8 inch). Immediately place them in the cream. Bring the cream to a simmer, lower the heat to very low, cover, and simmer about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender but not mushy.
  • Preheat oven to 320 degrees.
  • Butter a large gratin or baking dish with the butter. Alternately, you can use smaller gratin dishes for individual servings.
  • Ladle most of the potatoes into the dish making sure they are spread out evenly. Sprinkle on the Gruyere then add the rest of the potatoes. Spoon as much cream as needed to almost cover the potatoes, but not swimming.
  • Place the dish on a sheet pan in case the cream cooks over. Bake for about 45 minutes until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let sit about 1 hour before serving so the cream will set. You then can serve to a plate (or use a food mold) and reheat in the microwave.
  • Optional, you can garnish with a little chopped parsley, but mostly French chefs do not.
  • These freeze very well, just make sure they are wrapped in plastic and place in a sealed container.

CHILI STUFFED TWICE BAKED POTATOES

Who doesn’t love twice baked potatoes? O.K., maybe two or three of you. But most of us do. And when you stuff them with Chili Con Carne and slather it with sour cream, bacon, and chives….well, put the diet on hold for an evening!

Find big Russet potatoes and bake them for at least an hour at 400 degrees. Don’t wrap them in foil or rub with oil…you need the skins to have a little texture. However, do poke a few small holes in them so they don’t explode in the oven when baking (it’s happened!)

You can use canned chili con carne or make your own. Best to leave out the beans. Here we go…

Ingredients:

  • 2 large Russet potatoes
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 tbsp sour cream + more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup chili con carne without beans (home made or canned)
  • 4 thick slices of bacon, cooked and diced small
  • Chopped chives

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash and dry the potatoes. With a small knife, poke a few holes in them. Bake for at least 1 hour until they are fork tender. Remove from the oven and allow to cool enough to handle.
  • When the potatoes are cool enough, slice off the top 1/3 of each potato. Carefully scoop out the flesh. In to mixing bowl. Also scoop the flesh from the top slice.
  • To the potato flesh, add 4 tbsp of unsalted butter, 2 tbsp of sour cream, 1/4 cup shredded cheese, 2/ tbsp cooked diced bacon, Kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Mash with a fork and mix all ingredients well.
  • Heat the chili con carne in a saucepan. Place about 1/4 cup of chili in each hollowed out potato. Add about 2 tbsp of shredded cheddar to the chili. Top with the potato mixture and shape into a dome. Using a fork, make some ridges to the top of the potato. Melt 2 tbsp of butter and brush on top of the potatoes. Place in a preheated 450 degree oven for about 15 minutes until the tops are golden brown.
  • Sprinkle on some chopped bacon. Then some shredded cheddar cheese. Then some our cream topped with chopped chives.

LOADED TWICE BAKED POTATOES

I don’t know why I don’t make these more often…they’re so good!

This is my recipe for Twice Baked Potatoes. Changed up the ingredients to suit your taste, that’s the fun part. Even if you just add a little butter and salt and pepper, it’s a winner.

My suggestion: Don’t whip the potatoes, as this can make them too gummy. Just scoop out the flesh and fold in the stuff.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large Russet potatoes
  • Canola oil
  • Kosher salt and white or black pepper
  • 1 stick (or more) of unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes plus more for melting
  • 3 thick slices of bacon, cooked, chopped
  • 1/3 cup cream (warmed)
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled, smashed
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 1/2 cup shredded white cheddar
  • 2 tbsp sour cream (opt.)

Directions:

  • Place the cream in a small saucepan with the garlic clove, thyme, and rosemary sprig. Bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for 20 minutes to steep and infuse with all that flavor from the garlic and herbs. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
  • I like to minced my bacon in a small food processor. Save 1/3 of it for garnishing.
  • Preheat the oven to 400. Wash and dry your potatoes. Rub with canola oil. Bake for about 1 hour until fork tender. Remove from oven.
  • Slice off the top 1/3 of the potato. Save the top for later. You need to remove the flesh while it is still hot, so place the potato in a kitchen towel. Using a large soup spoon, scoop out the flesh into a mixing bowl. Scoop the flesh out of the top you cut off and save the top.
  • While the potato flesh is still hot, add 1/3 of the butter and fold in until melted. Add 1/2 the warm infused cream and fold. Add another 1/3 of the butter and fold it in. Add the rest of the cream and the rest of the butter and fold together. Fold in the minced bacon. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and reseason if necessary.
  • Place the cut off tops of the potato in the bottom of the potatoes. This will help give it more height for a better presentation. Spoon the potato flesh into the skins evenly and smooth a rounded top. Take a fork and rough up the surface of the flesh. Brush the tops of the potatoes and sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until the top is nice and golden brown. Garnish with minced bacon and chopped chives.

SALISBURY STEAK

If you use ground sirloin, you’ve got Salisbury “Steak”. If you use ground chuck, do you just have Salisbury “Ground Beef’? No matter. Moving on.

In the early 1800’s, a physician named James Salisbury advocated a meat-centered diet, kind of an early Atkins-like plan? Anyway, it was loosely born from him.

Salisbury steak is simple ground beef with some seasoning mixed into the ground beef, shaped in ovals, browned, then finish in a mushroom/onion gravy. Always a diner favorite, it’s easy to make and the leftovers are superb! This recipe has 2 (8 ounce) patties and could feed 3-4 people.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp dry bread crumbs
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire, divided
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3 ounces cremini or white mushrooms, thin sliced
  • 1/4 cup thin sliced onions
  • 1 1/2 cups low sodium beef stock
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Chopped chives

Directions:

For the mushroom.onion gravy:

  • Heat a medium skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil and butter. Add the mushrooms and onions and cook for about 4-5 minutes until the mushrooms give up their liquid and the onions are soft and translucent. Add the fresh thyme leaves and cook another 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk 1 cup of the stock into the pan and bring to a simmer, lower the heat, cover, and cook for 3 minutes. Add 1 tsp Worcestershire. Mix 2 tbsp of corn starch into 1/2 cup cold stock then stir into the gravy and simmer until thickened. Keep warm.

For the beef patties:

  • Place ground bee, garlic powder, onions powder, black pepper, bread crumbs, and 1 tsp Worcestershire in a mixing bowl. Mix together until well combined then form into 2 oval patties about 1/2 inch thick. Season with Kosher salt.
  • Heat a medium large skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tsp of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add your beef patties and brown well, about 3-4 minutes. Turn and brown on the other side. Add 1 cup of the gravy and coat the patties, turning once. Lower the heat, cover, and cook until the patties are 160 degrees.
  • Plate the patties next to some mashed potatoes then spoon over the gravy. Garnish with chopped parsley.

ZUPPA TOSCANA

Yes, the Olive Garden favorite! I worked at the O.G. in the 90’s as a Kitchen Manager, so, I helped make this daily. My recipe is slightly different, ie, I use cream instead of milk and I throw in a little dry sherry.

A couple of chef’s notes: After you add the potatoes and they are cooked, if you are not serving it right away, cool it down immediately by placing it in a shallow baking dish in the reefer. If not, the potatoes will get mushy real soon. Also, don’t skimp on the garlic. I used 1 large (elephant) garlic clove, so 2 normal cloves will suffice.

Ingredients:

  • 2 thick slices of bacon, diced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Italian sausage links (about 8 ounces total), casings removed
  • 1 medium leek, diced
  • 1 cup white onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, minced
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and white pepper
  • 2-3 cups kale, ribs removed, 1 inch chop
  • 2 medium Russet potatoes (1 1/2 lbs), leave skin on, quartered lengthwise then 3/8 inch slice

Directions:

  • In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the olive oil then add the diced bacon. Let it render for about 3 minutes then crumble in the Italian sausage. Cook, stirring, until the sausage is lightly browned.
  • Add the leeks and the onions and cook for 5-6 minutes. Season with salt and white pepper (use black if you don’t have white). Stir in the minced garlic, red pepper flakes, and the thyme leaves and cook for about 30 seconds.
  • Add the dry sherry and bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken stock, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Add the chopped kale and cook another 20 minutes. Add the potatoes and simmer gently, covered, for 10 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender. Do not overcook as the potatoes will be mushy. Turn off the heat and add the cream and stir. Taste and season with salt and white pepper. Serve immediately for keep warm or cool immediately.

HASH BROWN CASSEROLE

Otherwise Know As…Funeral Potatoes, Why are they called Funeral Potatoes? Simply explained…you guessed it…it is a dish often brought to after-funeral pot luck dinners in the Intermountain West. I’ve never had this at a funeral dinner, because…I’ve never been to a funeral-dinner. No biggee…I just love this casserole as a side dish for chicken or beef.

Ingredients:

  • About 8 ounces (1/4 bag) frozen (Ore-Ida) hash browns
  • 2-3 ounces sliced deli ham, 1/8 inch chiffonade
  • 1/4 cup onions, minced
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup grated Gruyere
  • 1/4 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup panko crumbs
  • 2 tbsp melted bitter
  • 1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • Chopped chives or green onions for garnish

Directions:

  • Heat 1 tbsp of butter in a small saucepan. Add the minced onions and cook for about 3 minutes. Add 1 tbsp flour, stir and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the stock and the milk and let it come together and thicken.
  • Stir in 1/2 cup shredded cheddar and 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere and stir it in until melted and well combined. Stir in the sour cream, granulated garlic, onion powder, and red pepper flakes. Let cook on low for 3-4 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  • Place the shredded hash browns in a large mixing bowl and pour on the cheese sauce mix. Fold together until well combined.
  • Mix together in a small bowl, the panko crumbs, melted butter, and parmesan cheese.
  • Butter a 9×9 casserole dish then place the hash brown mix in the dish. Top with the chopped bacon, then 1/4 cup of grated cheddar. Cover with foil and bake in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle with the panko mixture and bake another 10 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.

POTATO LATKES

Full discloser…it’s the first day of Hanukkah, but I’m not Jewish. I just love latkes and it seemed appropriate to make them today.

There are many recipes out there for latkes, but I borrowed this one from Babish (with a couple minor changes). I, like he, did not use schmaltz (chicken fat) to fry them…though I would have had I found some. Canola oil worked well. This recipe will give you 5-6 latkes.

In my book, this blows potatoes traditional hash browns out of the water!

Ingredients:

  • 2 large Russet potatoes or other starchy potato
  • 1/2 onion
  • Kosher salt and white pepper
  • 2-3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup panko crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
  • Canola oil for frying

Directions:

  • Peeled then grate the Russet potatoes and the onion at the same time. I used one of those cheap little crank things, but you can use a box grater. Do the next step immediately or your potatoes will brown quickly.
  • Place the grated potatoes on a clean kitchen towel and roll up, twisting the ends. Hold the towel over a medium mixing bowl and squeeze and a twist to get all the liquid out of them. Let the liquid go into the bowl. Let the bowl sit for few minutes, then carefully pour off the water and reserving the potato starch in the bottom.
  • Place the grated potatoes, beaten eggs, granulated garlic, Kosher salt and white pepper in the bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands.
  • Heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a medium skillet to 375 degrees.
  • Make about 5-6 “balls” of grated potatoes, place on a sheet pan, smash down to form about 1/2 inch patties. Leave the edges raggy as this will give you nice, crispy edges.
  • When the oil is hot, place the latkes in the the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown and crispy. Place them on a wire rack over a sheet pan in a warm oven while you make the remainder. Season with salt when they come out of the oil.
  • Serve with sour cream and diced green onions. Some people like to serve them with applesauce as well. Happy Hanukkah!