Potato Gratin-to peel or not to peel
- RVAwino Nov 25, 2008 03:24 AM
I'm in charge of potatoes for Turkey Day this year. I wanna make a killer potato gratin that will make a big splash. Here's my question:
I'm a big fan of potato skins. Would it make a difference if I didn't peel the potatoes?
Also, milk or cream? Or both? I want it to be good but not too unhealthy.
Peel. Julia Childs is my favorite recipe and she uses whole milk and lots of butter and gruyere cheese- it's in the mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Potato gratin is supposed so be smooth and creamy and potato skins would be an odd element in that particular dish.
And I second the Julia Child recipe with gruyere. It's the one I use and it's fabulous. Use whole milk. Do not use skim. Do not use 2%. It won't set up right and it won't taste as good.
One thing I've done in the past is layers of sweet potato, chives, gruyere, and then russet potato for the next layer and alternate like that.
Get a cheap Japanese mandolin - it makes slicing the potatoes a breeze.
Don't peel. I am lazy and would rather scrub potatoes well than peel. I also use either Julia's recipe with Gruyere cheese or Jacques Pepin with chicken stock instead of cream. I slice the potatoes in the processor very thinly and you really dont taste the peel when they are that thin.
It depends. Are you aiming for a fancy dish, with a smooth texture and pale, even appearance? Then peel. Don't peel if you're seeking a rustic side, with some visual contrast, slightly bitter flavor note from the peels, and a more toothsome texture. I make a very simple but good ham & gruyere gratin using unpeeled, parboiled potatoes layered with grated gruyere, some heavy cream w/a garlic clove smashed into it, and very thinly sliced ham or prosciutto. It's substantial enough to serve as a main dish. Since you're planning a side dish, you might choose to peel, and lighten the dish by using light cream, a little sage, some black pepper, and a little restraint with the cheese.
Peeling is not necessary. It creates a more uniform look, but it's also a holdover from the days when potatoes were filthy with manure (now, they get an industrial power wash before bagging) and when French-standard restaurant staffs had lots of people to do peeling. A lot (a lot) of recipes specify it automatically without really considering the necessity of it.
I prefer to keep my nutrients and not throw them away.
Peeling is traditional but in no way necessary. The dish will still turn out. It'll just be more rustic. Use half cream and half milk if you want to cut down on fat. It'll still be good.
Made with cream or milk it's called gratin dauphinois. If you use beef stock instead (way lower fat) it's called gratin savoyard. Personally, I like fat. Cheers!