WHEN YOU HAVE POTATOES AT YOUR DISPOSAL, all kinds of fascinating dishes can be quickly prepared. Take, for instance, Potatoes au Gratin. I whipped up a particularly swoon-worthy batch the other night. The top was so crispy and the interior so cheesy that I kept stealing spoonfuls of what was leftover.
Potatoes au Gratin
Ingredients for one 8×11 casserole dish (about 12 servings)
2 1/2 lbs potatoes (about 2-3 large) which, when sliced, will measure about 4 cups
2 heaping Tbs non-gmo cornstarch
2 cups milk
2 cups shredded extra sharp Cheddar cheese (about 8 ounces);
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs from either gluten-free bread* or regular wheat bread
Seasonings: salt, pepper, paprika
* I used one gluten-free English Muffin made by Foods by George (available in the freezer section at supermarkets and health-food stores)
Special equipment — an 8×11 casserole, either buttered or coated with non-stick spray; a slicing gadget is helpful but not necessary
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
The cheese sauce — Blend cornstarch and 3 Tbs milk to make a thick paste. Pour remaining milk into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the cornstarch solution to the hot milk, and stir constantly for about 2 minutes or until the milk has thickened. Remove from heat, toss in all but one handful (1/4 cup) of the cheese, and stir until melted. Season with a pinch of salt, pepper and paprika.
The potatoes — If you are using thin-skinned potatoes (like ‘Kennebec’ or any of the “boiling” types) there is no need to peel them first. Frankly, there’s no need to peel thick-skinned types, either. Just slice the potatoes into 1/16th-inch rounds. My nifty new mandolin accomplished the slicing job in no time at all.
Baking — one hour at 375-degrees. Place the casserole on the middle rack of the preheated oven, and bake for one hour, or until the top has nicely browned, and a fork inserted in the center reveals the potatoes are still firm but tender.
You could, of course, add minced garlic and onions to this dish. But then you’d need to saute these in butter until they soften. And this would complicate an otherwise simple dish which I promise is already utterly delicious without any extra ingredients.
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