A Different Potato-Based Recipe

When you don’t feel like making mashed potatoes and desire something with great flavor and a little tooth, this is a good casserole style dish that can work well for a potluck or buffet style dinner with plastic dinnerware. You can make this ahead of time and if kept at the right temperature will not take up too much time in your busy oven. It’s the sort of dish that can be cooked early in the cycle and left to sit on a hot plate while you’re getting everything else ready to go.

The makers of this recipe did a lot of work to determine the best thickness for the potato slices. Too thick and the casserole is too loose and sloppy while too thin can make the whole thing too mushy without individual slice definition. They settled on a thickness of about 1/8″. Don’t try to do this with a paring knife as it’s just too difficult to control the thickness, particularly getting them consistently thin enough. I used a mandolin slicer which is a perfect tool for the job.

Wash the potatoes and then peel them with a vegetable peeler. I have not tried this “dirty” by leaving the skins on. Perhaps someone can try that and let us know how it turns out.

Go ahead and slice up roughly 4 lb of Russet potatoes. After I was done I rinsed the slices in a bowl of water to remove a bit of the starch that will come out. If you want a stickier casserole then skip the wash.

You do have all of your ingredients in one place, don’t you? The French call that process “Mis en place”, everything in one place. Now would be a good time to make sure you have it all measured out and ready to go.

I have used Pacific brand chicken broth a lot. I know that ATK/Cook’s Illustrated is partial to Swansen’s organic chicken broth. Use a good tasking broth. The recipe calls for 1 small onion, two tbsp of unsalted butter, 2 medium cloves of minced garlic, 3 cups of heavy cream, 1 cup of whole milk, 4 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves, 2 bay leaves, 2 tsp of salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, and 4 oz of shredded cheddar.

They said 1 cup of shredded cheddar or 4 oz. I decided to weigh it out and I can tell you that with my cheddar block that 1 cup of shredded cheddar would not come close to weighing in at 4 oz. So this is another good time to go ahead and weigh your ingredients.

Heat your oven to 350 degrees to get it ready.

I ended up chopping the onion although this would probably be better with it minced as the recipe called for as the onion flavor would be spread around a little more and the texture would be smoother…my mistake. It was still good. Saute the onion in 2 tbsp of butter. Keep the heat low enough so that the onion doesn’t cook too fast. Cooking a little more slowly will let it carmelize. They said 4 minutes although it was a little longer for me before it started to brown slightly.

Then add in the minced garlic and chopped thyme and mix it in and saute for about 30 seconds.

Add the cream, milk, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper, and sliced potatoes. Cover the mixture and bring it to a light simmer.