Decadence is something I've never been shy with. I find any reason I can to indulge in the finer tastes in life. I was trained in classic French Cuisine and we all know the go to staples for making any meal tasty include butter, cream and salt. Now that I'm over 30, I can't eat as freely as I used to, unless I want to look like I've had one too many burritos. These days I celebrate with decadence on holidays. It's a free for all from Thanksgiving through New Years in my household and I make no apologies for my waist size until my resolutions are written down. This year I found myself indulging in this tasty little treat. It's a side dish of course, but feel free to eat the left overs with an over easy egg and some fresh roasted cherry tomatoes as a breakfast delight. As a little tip from my kitchen to yours, if you're big on entertaining- this would be a go-to-must-have to pull out of your arsenal because you can prep it and cook it in advance (much like a lasagna) and re-heat it at a low temp. in an oven before your guests arrive. It allows the gratin to set and cut into perfectly precious squares.
The most important tool I use for this dish (and I highly recommend you getting it for LOTS of other dishes) is a mandolin (don't try and cut these all by hand). May I also mention, SAFETY first with the mandolin. Always use the safety guard. Take it from me, I lopped my pointer finger off and had to get stitches. I still can't feel the tip of my finger, 4 years later.... although it does make for tough paws in the kitchen, the hassle wasn't worth the battle scar story.
Here's my personal favorite that I use at my house. I like it because it's got a strong leg to support weight and pressure as well as a guard. The ones without the leg support are great too, but I don't recommend them for new chefs in the making. Keep those for the restaurant professionals.
2 cups whipping cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
15 whole black peppercorns, cracked in a pepper grinder
5 large garlic cloves, crushed, minced
5 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices on a mandolin (the thinnest slice they'll go without breaking
1 jar of really flavorful truffle pate.
2 c. fresh grated parmesan cheese
- Combine 2 cups cream, chopped thyme, cracked black peppercorns, and 5 garlic cloves in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to simmer over medium heat. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 15 minutes. Cover; simmer 5 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Arrange 1/4 of potatoes in even layer in dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Scatter truffle oil on top of potatoes. Spoon 1/4 c. of cream over. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Repeat 3 more times, sprinkling truffle pate over each potato layer. Pour remaining cream over top. Finish with remaining parmesan cheese. Cover dish with foil.
- Bake gratin 1 hour. Uncover and bake until top is brown, potatoes are tender, and cream bubbles thickly, about 20 minutes longer. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
- If you'd like to serve this to a large crowd and prepare it in advance, cook potatoes the day before with foil on. The day of the event, take the foil off and bake the remaining 20 minutes. Slice into squares.