SCALLOPED POTATOES with GOAT GOUDA CHEESE and THYME
A Bird in the Oven and Then Some
by Mindy Fox
Variations on gratins seem endless, which is part of the fun of making them. Many gratins are made with heavy cream—tasty, no doubt, but I prefer a lighter dish, so I use a mix of milk and chicken broth instead. You can try different cheeses, or use none at all; swap thyme for other herbs; use a mix of potato types, or play with other root vegetables, like rutabaga, celery root, or winter squash. If you're not using an unsalted homemade broth, use a low-sodium type and decrease the amount of salt in this recipe by half or two-thirds (you can always add salt to taste, once the gratin is cooked, but the problem of too much salt can't be reversed). I like to really taste the black pepper, so I use a very coarse grind.
Serves.4 to 6
• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter for greasing pan
• 1¼ cup packed goat gouda, freshly grated on the fine holes of a grater (3 ounces)
• 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, cut crosswise into 1/8-inch thick slices
• 1 small garlic clove, very thinly sliced
• 1½ teaspoons fine sea salt (use less if using store-bought broth, see Headnote)
• 3/4 teaspoon freshly very coarsely ground black pepper
• 1 cup whole milk
• 1 cup chicken broth, preferably homemade
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Butter a 2-quart gratin or an 11x7x2-inch glass baking dish. Set aside 1/4 cup of the cheese.
Arrange 1/3 of the potato slices in the bottom of the prepared dish, overlapping slightly and covering the bottom of the dish completely (you may have more than 1 layer). Sprinkle with 1/3 each of the remaining cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper. Repeat the layering process 2 more times.
In a large bowl, whisk together the milk and broth. Pour the mixture over the potatoes. Put the dish on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, then sprinkle with the reserved cheese and continue to bake until the potatoes are tender and the top is golden, 10 to 15 minutes more.
Quick, even slicing
A mandolin-style adjustable-blade slicer is great for cutting potatoes and other root vegetables for gratins, and for making French fries and slaws. Inexpensive models can be found in urban Chinatown districts and online. Most come with a safety guard, which should always be used. It takes a little longer, and pieces may be less uniform, but you can also slice the potatoes for this dish the old-fashioned way, using a good sharp knife.