Sunday, September 21, 2008

Cheesy, yummy potato goodness (this blog's first foray into food)

Can you believe that my boyfriend has never had the pleasure of such comfort foods as Mushroom Soup Chicken Bake or Potatoes Au Gratin? I can remember a time when we could expect a variation of mushroom soup bake once a week. Just plop some meat in a pan (my mom was fond of chicken or cube steak), pour a family-size can of condensed mushroom soup over it, add some water and pop it into the oven until the meat is cooked through. So simple, but so freaking good it's unbelievable. We usually serve it over rice.

Potatoes Au Gratin are a little bit more of a treat. My mom wasn't big on potatoes, but my grandmother loved making this dish. After an impulse buy at the store left me with way too many potatoes (and I had tired of several batches of homemade french fries) I came across this recipe in my adventures through food blog land (a rich and addictive world that I recommend). The original recipe can be found
here. I'm not really in the habit of taking pictures of my food so I recommend checking out the mouth-watering photos found on that blog as well.

The most wonderful thing, I think, about Potatoes au Gratin is that they are (almost) a blank canvas. I mean, they're basically potatoes and cheese. I didn't deviate from this recipe much, but I did tweak it based on what I had on hand and my preferences (as all people should feel free to do with any recipe). As I will do with any recipe I put here, I'll list my tweaks after the original recipe:

Potatoes au Gratin

*4-5 large Idaho russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8 th inch thick
1/4 cup butter
1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced
1 tbsp flour
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
**2 cups of non fat milk
***2 cups of extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (divided)
1/4 dry Italian bread crumbs

~Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Scrub potatoes and peel. Cut into 1/8-inch slices to measure about 4 cups. If you have a mandolin slicer, use it.
~Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion in butter about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. ~Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until bubbly; remove from heat.
~Slowly stir in milk and 1 1/2 cups of the cheese. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute until the cheese is completely melted.
~Spread potatoes in casserole dish. Pour cheese sauce over potatoes.
Bake uncovered for 1 hour.
Mix remaining cheese and the bread crumbs; sprinkle over potatoes; add a bit more salt and pepper. Bake uncovered 15 to 20 minutes longer or until top is brown and bubbly.

My tweaks:
* I used up the rest of my 5-lb. bag of Yukon Gold potatoes (the before-mentioned impulse buy). Pick a potato variety you like since really the potatoes are the main ingredient. The awesome thing about Yukons is they already have this buttery taste to them but they also stay together rather well and don't turn into potatoes au mush.
** If you know me, you know my aversion to milk. I substituted 2 cups of plain Silk Soymilk. It turned out quite well and gave the dish a rich counterpart to the potatoes.
*** Finally, I put around 2 cups of cheese into the dish (you're supposed to reserve a half cup for on top). Then I put another cup on top mixed in with the Italian breadcrumbs. YUM. Next time I might even shred some more (I just bought a block of extra sharp cheddar and shredded most of it) and layer some with the potatoes.

And to wrap this post up, you might think about changing this dish in any way you want. I can see it becoming Italian by substituting mozerella, parmesan or even ricotta and add oregano and basil. Add some different spices than just salt and pepper. Add some cooked meat or other vegetables for a heartier main dish. Like I said, you can't go wrong with cheese and potatoes, even if they no longer resemble 'classic' potatoes au gratin.

No comments:

Post a Comment