Otherwise known as scalloped potatoes or Gratin Dauphinoise, messy potatoes are my favorite ‘go to’ potatoes for a side with dinner.
I have a mandolin. It’s a vegetable cutting guillotine that’s perfect for slicing potatoes thinly. Unfortunately, and no surprise here, a plastic part exploded rendering the guide useless. So I am back to using my knife skills, which are pretty decent, while I decide the de Buyer’s fate. I suspect it was bought from Wiliiam-Sonoma. And I have issues with them. I have yet to write that story but it’s a doozy.
My recipe is a simpleton’s version. But let me first share the comment and recipe from the Gourmet Cookbook.
“The scalloped potato dish is part of our culinary repertoire, and we hope it will be become part of yours too. There is something about the texture of the potatoes surrounded by creamy goodness and topped by golden brown cheese that wows people. It is perfect for a buffet supper or potluck: in our experience, it is the first thing to disappear. The technique of starting the potatoes in a saucepan of half-and-half and ending them in a buttered gratin dish comes from masterful Jacques Pépin.”
Ironically, in the book written by Jacques and Julia, he went on about using chicken stock which his wife and daughter loved. So I tried it. And it sucked.
Here’s the recipe from the Gourmet magazine for
2 1/2 pounds boiling potatoes, such as Yukon Gold (I use Yukons too)
3 1/2 cups half-and-half
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup coarsely grated Gruyère
Cut the potatoes, heat dairy product, add spices, add potatoes. All in pan, blah blah blah, 35 to 45 minutes in a 400° oven.
Here’s what I do differently. I use 2% milk, lots of butter, and sometimes I sauté onions first in my cast iron skillet before adding everything else, heating the milk and potatoes and butter with the potatoes and salt and nutmeg, and then throwing the whole thing in the oven to bake.There’s no separate buttered pan and there’s no loads of pepper and garlic. I do not add cheese to the top but sometimes paprika.
And when the milk is gone and the top is brown, it’s done
And the reason they’re called messy potatoes at our house is because the skillet is trashed and usually “soaks” in the sink for two days before someone is brave enough to clean it. Enjoy this veggies eaters and meat eaters alike.