Gratin-@1020

Potato Gratin. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

Here is the classic potato gratin that I made at a makeshift studio during the first series of the Le Creuset demo videos. My daughter had come along to see lovely Charleston, look at the College of Charleston, and generally take in the scene, and the only comment when we returned to Cleveland was, “Why don’t you ever make that cheesy potato thing for us?”

Nothing of course would have given me more pleasure, had I only thought to do it. Indeed, this is a dish so easy and delicious and do-ahead-able, it’s a shame I don’t make it monthly during these cold winter months. Simple indeed. Layer sliced potatoes in a dish, give them a good shot of salt and pepper and several scratchings of nutmeg, cover with half-and-half, and bake covered till tender. When ready to serve, top with good cheese, Gruyère or Emmanthaler or the like, maybe a topping of Parmesan, and broil till, well, till it looks like Donna’s gorgeous photo above. Both photos and dish were created in adverse conditions and still it was my daughters single request from her trip to Charleston.

I suppose you need to learn how heavy or light to go on the seasoning, and yes, it’s a good idea to throw some cheese in between layers of potatoes, but honestly, think about it, potatoes simmered in seasoned half-and-half till totally tender, then topped with cheese and broiled. Do you need a recipe for that? Nope.

But you can see a demo on the original post, with, sigh, an actual recipe, or watch it on YouTube. But in this case, I urge you to wing it.

Me, I’m just back too early from the Charleston Wine and Food Festival, a splendid affair. My daughter, a College of Charleston student, conspired to be in Cleveland while I was there. I should have made more potatoes gratin when she was growing up. *sigh*

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© 2014 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2014 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.

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25 Wonderful responses to “Gratin”

  • Michael Ruhlman

    Still working on the site design, btw. I’ve appreciate people’s comments and suggestions.

    • Abra

      Still quirky with Chrome. Plus, now there’s only a picture, no post title, on the front page, so unless you know to click the photo you’ll miss the text. I love your blog and want it to be as perfect as it always was!

  • Elsewhere

    I love these potatoes even without the cheese (but to make up for the lack of cheese I use cream rather than half-and-half)..

    Either way, so simple, so incredibly good, and it always plays well with anything else on the plate

  • Svetlana

    That looks fabulous. Ever consider doing a Vegan Monday dish? Would you offer one now that I have asked, pretty please? ;)

  • Kiara

    Ruhlman! Does Le Creuset ask for your feedback? Tell them that Canadians want access to your videos (and contests… but I’m sure that’s asking too much). We get redirected to http://lecreuset.ca/en-ca/ :(

    I will use ProxMate to access the US site but I doubt most users would go beyond being redirected.

  • Joey D'Antoni

    Keller in Ad Hoc (iirc, may be Under Pressure) mentions to salt ever other layer of potatoes. Has worked very well in my experience.

  • John Robinson

    Out of curiosity, why do you use Half ‘n Half instead of Heavy Cream? Interesting bit about holding the cheese until the end – I’ve always battled the fine line between perfectly browned cheese and a broken greasy mess. I’ll have to try this!

  • Mike

    I recently made this to bring to a party because I saw it on the Le Creuset demo video a while back. It was ok, nothing great, so I guess I’m not as good a cook as the people posting rave reviews the last time this was on the blog. I had definitely under-seasoned it. Next time I’ll add more salt as I’m adding the layers. I used a food processor and ended up with uneven slices; some the thickness I expected from the slicing blade, but some much thinner. Its trickier than you think to add the potatoes to the tube and keep even pressure the whole time. Next time I’ll try a mandoline. Also the half&half curdled in places, and looking up other gratin recipes after I made it I saw that some people say that making your own mixture from cream and whole milk is less likely to curdle. True?

  • Skip

    I make a potato gratin with gruyere, heavy cream, caramelized onions and a small pinch of thyme between each layers. It is a company favorite. Sometimes I’ve put some crumbled bacon in there, too.

    • Christine

      Yes! I’ve done it. Light dusting of nutmeg or thyme with each layer is delicious! May need to bake longer than regular potatoes because sweets are so hard.

  • Beachfinn

    Yes, love the new design :)

    Finnish variation to above, add anchovies to few layers, whole milk with 1-2 eggs and skip the cheese. For variations Google “Janssonin Kiusaus”.

    next book; Potato?

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  • Susan

    When I read this yesterday it made me so hungry for a gratin that I had to make one for dinner last night. I didn’t have potatoes so I used macaroni instead and made a very thin béchamel sauce.. I layered it just as you have here but used more cheese between the layers. Mac and cheese perfection. You’re right, you don’t need a recipe for this

  • Natalie Luffer

    I enjoy the website: it is clean and clear and neat – just want you want your kitchen to be because it makes reading your posts and you know what? I enjoy that you do not have an actual recipe as I enjoy reading the steps to making this luscious gratin….only 1 question and that is how to get the burnt edges cleaned.

  • leobsessed

    Mr. Ruhlman I’m obsessed with your Le Creuset videos and the general idea of cooking in Dutch/French ovens. Everything comes out 100000% more delicious and it makes cooking feel more rustic and reminiscent of old-fashioned, stewed-for-hours, one-pot Sunday family dinners. I also enjoy your instructional style, organized but laid back with a glass of wine.

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