I don’t know what my deal is recently but I have been craving eggs like it’s no one’s business. I’m fine with curbing the non-stop thoughts with a couple of fried egg whites on some buttered-toasted rye but what really (and I mean really) makes me happy is poached eggs. What got me back in the mood for runny eggs on top of foods other than toast was the brunch I had in Richmond last February. Annie, Josie and I all ordered the same thing: two poached eggs with hollandaise on top of shrimp and cheesy pimento grits. I fell hard.
So it I considered it the natural choice to top some leftover gratin potatoes with a poached egg and some spinach and kale. I made these potatoes for our Christmas brunch which also consisted of a to-die-for beef tenderloin, baked spinach, hot fruit compote, pierogis, sausage-egg casserole, and cinnamon buns, and while the tenderloin completely stole the show, these potatoes were a pretty close second. Sliced super thin, layered with Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses, soaked in cream, then baked to tender and crispy perfection…I was smitten.
And even though I had this odd preconceived notion that gratin potatoes were a pain in the arse to make, I was purely wrong. It’s a 3-step process that I made a day in advance to save time (the potatoes did get discolored in the fridge but the taste wasn’t altered) but I certainly could have squeezed in 15 minutes to prep them shortly before our meal. Either way, these gratin potatoes are now my go-to potato dish and whether I top them with a poached egg or add some herbs or use a different cheese (blue cheese would be amazing!) – or all of the above – they will make me a happy, happy girl.
I own a copy of The Art of Simple Food and clearly I need to get back in touch with it because this recipe rocks. To slice the potatoes super thin and not lose patience doing so with a knife, use a mandoline, a thin slicer on the food processor, or the nifty slicer/shredded attachment for the Kitchenaid stand mixer. I doubled the recipe, by the way, and popping 3lbs of potatoes through the KA attachment was waaay easier than using a mandoline or my own knife skills. Just sayin’.
- 3 tbsp butter, cut into pieces, plus an additional pat for buttering gratin dish
- 4 large yellow potatoes, like Yukon gold (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and slices 1/16-inch thick, if possible
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup milk, half-and-half or cream (if using something half-and-half or cream, skip the 3 tbsp butter from above)
- 2 oz cheese, grated or crumbled (I used Gruyere and Parmesan but sharp cheddar, gouda, blue, or goat cheeses, to name a few, would also work great here)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and butter a 9×13-inch glass baking or gratin dish. Layer a third of the potatoes on the bottom of the pan so that they are slightly overlapping in rows, like shingles. Sprinkle some salt and pepper over the potatoes and then a third of the cheese. Repeat with the remaining two thirds of potatoes, reserving the last third of cheese. If your potatoes are thin enough, you should end up with 3 layers.
- Slowly pour the milk, half-and-half or cream over the potatoes. If the milk doesn’t come up to the bottom of the top layer of potatoes, add a little more milk. The potatoes should not be drowning in milk. Sprinkle on the remaining cheese. Dot with butter, if using.
- Bake for 1 hour, pressing down the top of the potatoes with a spatula halfway through. The potatoes will be done with the top is golden brown, the edges are slightly crispy, and the potatoes are soft.