Saturday, September 20, 2008
I have been a bad food blogger. Not only have I not be blogging, I haven't even been cooking. This past week I had one day where I actually made something for dinner and it was the spaghetti and meatballs I've already raved about twice. Our other meals have consisted of leftovers, a dinner out for the anniversary, pizza, hot wings, and sushi. So yes, even I get too busy to cook. Even I order takeout (although I cringe while doing it). So when Saturday rolled around, it was time for some home cooked pleasure. This heavenly potato gratin certainly delivers.
I must ask you to excuse my deteriorating photography skills. The problem is I have no natural light after 6:30, and I never manage to make dinner by then. I've been trying all the tricks I have up my sleeve, but I think I'm going to have to fold and get some real photography lights like these ones I've been eyeing. Until then, I apologize, but guarantee you that this is SO good, even if it doesn't look it.
Don't even think about using another variety of potato here. Trust me, I've tried. Waxy potatoes don't absorb any liquid, leaving you with a funky separated sauce, russets absorb too much and get mushy like mashed potatoes. Yukon Golds are richer in flavor, absorb just enough liquid to result in a thick, creamy sauce and hold their shape well. I've also found this method allows the potatoes the perfect amount of cooking time and results in a tender, well sauced gratin.
Golden Bacon, Leek and Gruyere Potato Gratin
6 slices maple smoked bacon
8 oz cleaned leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned and sliced into half moons
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp thyme
1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
pinch of salt
2 1/2 lbs. yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and sliced 1/8 inch thin (if your knife skills could use improvement, employ a mandolin)
7 oz shredded gruyere cheese
3/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated parmaggiano reggiano
2 Tbsp melted butter
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
In a large nonstick skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crispy. Set aside on paper towels to cool, reserving grease. Add leeks and saute until softened but still green. Empty into a bowl and set aside.
Combine stock, cream and seasonings and bring to a simmer. Add potato slices and simmer until they are just starting to get tender, about 8 minutes.
In a large greased gratin dish, layer in 1/3 of potatoes, followed by 1/2 of gruyere, leeks and bacon. Repeat, then top with remaining third of potatoes (pour any liquid left down over the gratin).
Mix together breadcrumbs, parmesan and butter with a fork. Sprinkle in an even layer over the top of the gratin.
Bake until breadcrumbs are golden and bubbling sauce has thickened, about 25 minutes.
Serve alongside another bistro classic, such as steak au poivre and haricots vert. (I had chicken marsala with mine)
P.S. Omit the bacon, sub milk or veggie stock for chicken and this is an oh, so satisfying vegetarian meal!