What a week. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see Friday arrive. How about you?
On top of Kieran being sick for the past couple weeks, he’s now got molars coming in. Poor bug. We’ve been nursing a fever and trying to make him as comfy as possible…all on top of having a bajillion work things going on (I had to leave work early one day this week to tend to the sick child), house things happening (annoying-definitely-not-fun house things), family and friend commitments, and way too many things on our plate all the time. It’s been a long week. Do you ever have that feeling where the hours sort of drag on and fly by at the same time? The phrase “the days are long but the years are short” could not be more applicable to my life. This week seemed to go sooo slowly and yet I’m kind of surprised that it’s almost the weekend already. So weird.
We’re in need of some extra comfort in our house these days. And one thing we’ve been loving up on? This gratin. I made it last weekend and we’ve been munching on cute little squares of it all week long. It’s a home run. And it has definitely been helping us cope after some long days. A plate of warm food does wonders.
This is one of those dishes, like all gratins, that takes some extra time and effort. You have to roast the garlic (which is easy – just adds to the cooking time), peel the potatoes, thinly slice the potatoes (I use a mandolin to help with this), grate all the cheese, steep the cream with the garlic and fresh herbs, and then layer everything together in a baking dish. Which then goes into the oven for almost two hours!
So yeah, this dish takes awhile to assemble and bake. Hopefully I didn’t just talk you out of making it, though! It’s totally WORTH IT. Not only does it make a ton, but it’s so freaking good cold out of the fridge or warmed up in the microwave. It’s the perfect side dish to just about anything. Except maybe pasta? Haha. Carb overload.
I can totally justify a recipe like this when I know ahead of time just how long it will take me. When I know that I have the time to invest, I don’t mind the extra effort one bit. The kitchen = my happy place. It actually helps me UNWIND, which I know may sound crazy to some of you. Standing over a pot of simmering deliciousness, though, really speaks to my soul. It’s all so satisfying to me. Especially when roasted garlic is involved.
The roasted garlic gets so sweet and fragrant and lovely, and once it steeps in that cream, oh holy heck! That stuff is drinkable. I may have “checked my seasonings” a few extra times, hah, just as an excuse to dip my spoon back in that pot of goodness. Paired with the nutty creaminess of the gouda and the peppery sharpness of the gruyere…yeah, it’s no wonder the potatoes end up tasting so good. I mean, just look at all those creamy, cheesy layers going on down there! And some of the whole roasted cloves baked right into that cheesy crust! Heaven!
Speaking of potatoes, I like using Yukon Gold for this type of recipe. They’re creamier and cook up so nicely. Perfectly tender and creamy but not mushy and wet. I’ve had a few gratins fail on me over the years, and I’m fairly certain it was from using the wrong type of potato. So, go for the gold with this dish. You won’t be sorry.
Actually, there’s nothing to be sorry about with this gratin. Make it this weekend alongside some steak or a roast chicken.
TOTALLY WORTH IT.
3 heads of garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups half-and-half
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
5 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
2½ cups shredded aged gouda cheese
1 cup shredded gruyere cheese
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Slice ½ inch of the tops of the garlic heads off so that the cloves are exposed. Place on a large piece of tin foil. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt.
Wrap the tin foil around the heads of garlic and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the cloves are caramelized. Allow to cool slightly and then squeeze the cloves out into a medium pot. Spoon out a few of the cloves and reserve for later.
Mash the remaining roasted garlic into a paste and then place the pot over medium heat. Add in the half-and-half and thyme, stirring well to incorporate the garlic paste. Season with a little salt and pepper.
Bring the mixture to a simmer and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, slice the potatoes very thinly using a mandoline or a very sharp knife. Arrange roughly a third of the potatoes on the bottom of a buttered 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Top with a handful of the shredded cheeses and then drizzle some of the garlic cream over top.
Repeat this process two more times until all the ingredients have been used up, ending with an extra handful of cheese on top. Scatter the reserved roasted garlic cloves over the top of the cheese.
Gently press everything down to ensure that the potatoes are submerged in the garlic cream.
Place the baking dish on a baking sheet and bake for 1½-2 hours, or until a knife easily inserts through the potatoes in the center. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.
To make ahead, the gratin can be assembled completely and kept covered in the fridge for a day or two. Allow it to return to room temperature before baking.