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Potato Cauliflower Gratin Redux, Redux.

November 16, 2008

Potato Cauliflower Gratin

I have been messing about with this here food blog for two years now today. I’ve averaged about 2 1/4 posts a week over those two years, and cooked even more meals than that. It’s pretty amazing to realize how little I knew about cooking just two years ago, and how much I’ve learned. You just have to read about my first adventures with shrimp to see how little I knew about much of anything food-related back then. And now? Cooking is my favorite thing to do, second maybe only to reading. I’m afraid of nothing in the kitchen (ok, that’s probably a bit of an exaggeration), and I’ve eaten things I never thought I would eat (rabbit? chicken livers? delicious!). I’ve learned more than I thought I wanted to know about our nation’s food culture and industry, and become something of an advocate for sustainable agriculture and healthier food choices (though I do seem to have an inordinate affection for heavy cream…). Who would have thought starting a food blog because I was bored would have lead to my current near-obsession with food and cooking?

And out of all the many, many things I’ve cooked, one of the posts on this blog that gets the most visitors is still my first Potato Cauliflower Gratin. Potato Cauliflower Gratin is one of my favorite side dishes: creamy, cheesy, comforting, decadent…but hey, still vegetables! And therefore healthy, right? Right? I’ve made this dish a number of times in the last two years, and every time it’s a little bit better than that first attempt. I’ve been meaning to post an update for ages, because frankly, that original recipe isn’t very good. The cooking times I wrote were way off, and the potatoes were still crunchy, and, hm, it just wasn’t as spectacular as I knew, even then, it could be. Well, I think I’ve finally created a gratin that is pretty spectacular, and I’m finally ready to update that earlier post, with all that I’ve learned over the last two years.

This recipe is bastardized from this year’s November Bon Appetit: I turned their Scalloped Yukon Gold and Sweet Potato Gratin into a Potato and Cauliflower Gratin, and brought it to a potluck dinner party last weekend. The fresh herbs make this really outstanding, and while it seems like you’re adding too much salt, the end result is perfectly buttery and flavorful and very, very sinfully good [Um, and I realized as I typed out the recipe that I actually used way more salt than the original recipe called for…but I think that’s what made it so good, so I say go for it! Love the salt!]. And hey—the potatoes are actually cooked all the way through! It’s amazing!

Potato Cauliflower Gratin

I used one head of green cauliflower and one of white; green cauliflower seems usually to be smaller, so if you’re using only white, you might want to use one and a half heads. I love colorful cauliflower, though I suspect it’s probably some kind of genetically engineered vegetable that I would be afraid of if I knew much more.

White and Green Cauliflower

Potato Cauliflower Gratin with Fresh Herbs

  • 3 large Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 2 medium heads of cauliflower
  • 2 c. heavy cream
  • 1/4 c. (half a stick) of unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 T. minced fresh parsley
  • 1 T. minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 T. minced fresh thyme
  • 1 T. salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 c. grated Gruyere cheese (I used dry aged Gruyere)

Preheat the oven to 400F. Fill a large bowl with cold water, and peel the potatoes. Slice them thinly, placing each slice into the cold water as you go (this will keep them from getting brown and rinses some of the starch off). Let the potatoes soak while you chop the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces.

In a small saucepan, stir together the cream, butter, and garlic, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Once the butter is melted completely, set aside. Mix all the herbs together in one small bowl, and the salt and pepper in another.

Salt and Pepper

Butter a 13×9 inch baking dish. Drain the potatoes and pat them dry, then layer half of them at the bottom of the baking dish, spreading them evenly across the bottom. Sprinkle half of the salt mixture, half of the herb mixture, and half of the cheese evenly over the potatoes. Layer all of the cauliflower over that, and the rest of the potatoes, and then the rest of the herbs and salt. Pour the cream and butter mixture over the whole dish, pressing the potatoes to submerge everything as well as you can (don’t worry if potato bits stick out, they will get lovely and browned). Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.

Cover the dish with tin foil and bake for 30 minutes. Then uncover and continue baking for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed and the top is browned. Let it sit for about 10 minutes after baking before serving, so everything has a chance to settle.

Herb-y Gratin

While my earlier gratin was perfectly acceptable, this far surpasses it in delectable-ness. And I think that’s what this food blog has been about for me: experimenting and learning and striving to make everything I cook better and better. Reading back over the earliest entries here, I realize how much I’ve grown and changed in the last two years, and how many wonderful meals I’ve shared with the people I love. If this blog serves no other purpose, it sure is nice to have a record of it all.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. November 18, 2008 8:33 pm

    Happy blogiversary!
    I can’t believe it’s been over two years for my blog as well and I’ve certainly learned a lot along the way.

  2. November 19, 2008 10:24 am

    Ditto! I’ve enjoyed reading about your kitchen adventures.
    And now I may DO something with the cauliflower sitting in my fridge before it turns black. Not like that ever happens or anything.

  3. eunice permalink
    November 27, 2008 3:20 pm

    the gratin ‘sgoood! miss you…

  4. Daria permalink
    July 15, 2009 10:31 pm

    I made this today without the herbs and added mozarella and cheddar instead of gruyere. It is an excellent recipe, keep ’em coming.


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