Sometimes you just need potatoes.
We eat a fair amount of potatoes in my house. They are versatile, easy to prepare and really the best starchy comfort food going, aside from macaroni and cheese which is the king of comfort food as far as I am concerned.
All that said, I do get a little tired of the same old baked potatoes and mashed potatoes. Yes, they are easy, and they are good, but I knew I could do more with this tasty tuber within an hour!
My mom makes these scalloped potatoes that are SO good. (And, if you are reading this, “Hi mom!!”) That dish was what inspired me to throw this together for lunch one afternoon. I wanted a complex cheese flavor so I used a blend of strong cheeses, but I wanted to keep it subtle at the same time so I used them sparingly. This recipe strikes the right balance of creamy cheese sauce and tender potato. It takes about as long to make as a baked potato, and while it is a little more labor intensive, it isn’t going to run you ragged.
This is a pretty basic recipe, but why get complicated with something that is so good?
Four Cheese Potato Gratin Serves 4
1 pound peeled potatoes, sliced thin (about 1/4″ thick)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 ounce fontina cheese
1 ounce sharp chedar cheese
1 ounce gruyere cheese
1/2 ounce cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (optional)
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
Heat your oven to 350F and spray a medium size casserole dish with non-stick spray. (Alternately you can spray four individual casserole dishes, about 1 cup volume, with non-stick spray.) Place your baking dish on a sheet pan lined with parchment.
In a pot filled with salted water, boil the potatoes for five minutes. Drain and reserve.
In a sauce pan over medium heat melt the butter. Add the onion and cook until it begins to soften, about three minutes. Add the garlic and cook for thirty seconds. Add the flour and mix until the flour is moistened by the butter. This mixture will be dry.
Whisk in the milk and cook until the mixture begins to thicken, but has not come to a boil. Turn off the heat and add the cheeses. Mix until they are melted. Add the red pepper and season to taste with salt and pepper.
In the prepared casserole dish first layer 1/3 of the potatoes, then 1/3 of the sauce. Repeat two more times then top with the panko and parmesan.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it is bubbling and the top is golden brown.
Allow to cool for ten minutes before serving.