There's always a point during Passover when I whine about all the things I can't eat. I'm a bread person, after all, and much as I like matzoh there comes a point when I get pouty. My husband David, who is not Jewish despite the fact that he looks more Jewish than I do, occasionally eats a piece of toast while I stare at him in despair. In his defense, it's probably not much fun for him either.
I am not an enormous fan of potato gratin, or scalloped potatoes, but I recently bought David a copy of Alice Waters' new book. We knew our seder was going to be of the dairy variety due to the high number of vegetarians, so I found myself looking at dairy-heavy vegetable dishes when I came across this one.
This recipe easily doubles. I recommend you make it immediately before it goes into the oven so the potato slices don't discolor; you could make the potato slices ahead of time, but Waters warns against putting them in water because the potato starch will be lost.
Alice Waters' Potato Gratin
Adapted from In the Green Kitchen by Alice Waters
2 tbsp. butter, cubed, plus more for buttering the dish
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 cup 2% milk
1 tbsp. kosher salt
3/4 cup vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
3 1/2 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
1 tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
Fresh-ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, cream, bay leaves, salt and vegetable stock. Heat the mixture to a simmer; when it reaches a simmer, reduce the heat to low.
Butter a shallow, medium-sized gratin dish or casserole and set aside. Slice the potatoes to approximately 1/8 inch thick using either a mandoline or food processor. Immediately begin layering the potatoes into the casserole, ideally overlapping them. However, if fourteen people are showing up at your door imminently, throw those potatoes into the dish to the best of your ability.
When the potatoes are in the dish, turn off the heat on the cream mixture and remove the bay leaves. Pour the warm mixture over the potatoes, stopping just before it gets to the top of the potato slices. If you overfill, it will spill over in your oven--I can attest to that.
Sprinkle the cubes of butter evenly over the gratin, then cover the pan with foil. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes; check to make sure the potatoes can be pierced with a knife. Then remove the foil, sprinkle the thyme and pepper over the potatoes, increase the heat to 400 degrees and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes, until the potatoes are lightly browned.
At this point, there will be quite a lot of cream in the bottom of the dish. The dish can be served immediately, or you can let it rest for another 5 to 10 minutes to allow some of the remaining cream to absorb.
Easily serves 8 as a side dish.