It’s a fundamental truth: There are few things better than potatoes and cheese in combination. But sadly, I’ve never been able to make a good at home gratin–the pinnacle of cheesy, potato-y goodness. Mine turn out over-oily or too heavy or bland.
Well, not today. Today I found Alice Waters’ Potato Gratin from her cookbook Chez Panisse Vegetables. Today I felt in love.
The gratin is simple but flavorful. It combines cream with chicken stock for balance, which results in a perfectly decadent but not overwhelmingly rich casserole. And the cheesy goodness comes from Parmesan and Gruyere, which bubble and provide a fantastic crispy-chewy crust. SO GOOD.
The Best Potato Gratin Ever
Adapted slightly from the adaption at Alexandra’s Kitchen (visit for a full transcription of the Chez Panisse recipe)
3-4 cloves garlic, smashed or pressed
3 pounds potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8-inch thick (I used baking potatoes)
cayenne (a Shawna adaptation)
fresh thyme sprigs
1.5-2 cups chicken or veggie stock
1.5-2 cups heavy cream
1-1.5 cups grated Gruyere cheese
1/4-1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1. Set oven to 425.
2. Rub a baking dish with butter (9×13 pyrex or similar) and scatter 1-2 cloves of smashed garlic.
3. Layer overlapping slices of potatoes in rows. Season generously with salt, pepper, and fresh thyme leaves, and dust lightly with cayenne. (The original recipe calls for nutmeg but, eww, no.) Sprinkle pressed garlic (2-3 cloves).
4. Add another layer of potatoes and seasonings.
5. Add a mix of stock and cream along the edges of the potatoes (so as not to rinse off the spices) until it reaches the top layer of potatoes. I let it reach the top edges along the side, but you don’t want to submerge the potatoes in liquid.
6. Sprinkle with grated cheeses, and scatter thin shavings of butter along the top (just a bit)
7. Bake for 45-60 minutes, checking to make sure the cheese isn’t browning too quickly. I covered with foil 20 minutes in to prevent burning and eventually reduced heat to 375 towards the end.
8. Bake until potatoes are tender and the top is browned.
– About 35 minutes in, the cream/stock started to bubble up over the cheese and I was worried there was too much liquid. Just keep cooking. The liquid will be absorbed and the cheese will still crisp up beautifully.
– I halved the recipe using an 8×8 pyrex and let it cook for about an hour. Perfection.
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