Now this is a dish I do not plan on making more than twice a year. The fat content alone is enough to fill you for at least 6 months. But it’s beautiful and I would eat it more often if my waist and poor heart would allow for it. How could we possibly say no to a bubbly, cheesy, starchy, salty dish like this? It’s stunning. And as it bakes, it just calls to you.
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook
A note about America’s Test Kitchen – I love it. I think everyone should own a copy. It’s insightful, thoughtful, easy to follow, and all the recipes have been methodically tested. I highly recommend the book and especially this recipe, which has a brilliant method for dealing with undercooked potatoes. The potatoes have essentially been par-cooked in the cream/milk mixture almost 75%, before being baked, which ensures that the final product is evenly cooked, despite all those thick potato-y layers. So smart, right? The flavors are also fantastic – not at all bland, and enriched with fresh herbs and the addition of a couple bay leaves. You need this in your life now. But not too much, not more than twice a year.
2 tbs unsalted butter
1 small onion, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3-4 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and sliced to 1/8″ thickness (I used a mandolin)
2 c heavy cream
2 c whole milk
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp table salt (saltier than sea salt)
1 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 350*F. In a heavy bottomed pot (Dutch oven would work great here), melt the butter on medium-high heat, then add the onions and sautée until softened and lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the potatoes, cream, milk, herbs, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Cover and bring the head down to allow just a light simmer and cook until the potatoes are almost tender. The potatoes should resist very little when poked with a pairing knife. This should take about 15-20 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and discard the fresh herbs. Transfer the potato mixture to a gratin or deep pie dish. I used my Emile Henry pie dish with a bit of leftover, which I placed into individual serving size ramekins. Top with the shredded cheddar cheese. Place pie dish onto a baking tray (to catch any cheese or cream that may ooze over the sides), and cook until golden brown and bubbly, about 20 minutes. This dish retains heat very well, so cool for at least 5-10 minutes before serving. This also allows for the juices to thicken and re-absorb into the potatoes, preventing a soppy mess. Serve and enjoy.
I inverted the individual ramekin to serve with our rack of wild boar.
I’ve had scalloped potatoes before, but this blows everything I’ve ever had, completely out of the water. It’s been a few days, and we’ve gobbled up the rest of the leftovers, microwaving it just until the cheese melts. It is truly a thing of beauty. Thank you America’s Test Kitchen for another winner.