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Argh, I hate you potatoes au gratin

Yet another hopeful attempt at potatoes au gratin. Another dismal failure and waste of potatoes, gruyere, cream, and butter.

I can make so many things but the things I cannot make I CANNOT MAKE.

ARGH.

Would any one like to share their foolproof recipe? I'd prefer one that doesn't require pre-cooking the potatoes and uses a moderate amount of fat.

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  1. What is going wrong? I don't make this dish a lot, but my most recent one was from a fantastic recipe from Suzanne Goin. It includes bacon, though, and does not use a moderate amount of fat. From that perspective, you might be better off making the version that uses chicken broth instead of cream, though the name is currently escaping me!

    Edit: I looked it up - Gratin Savoyard.

    1. I make gratins all the time. The trick for me is to use a mandolin so the slices are thin and cook quickly and evenly.

      2 Replies
      1. re: lergnom

        I don't have a mandoline (yet) and so slice the potatoes by hand, and, so far, haven't had a problem. But, I can see that if there were a lot of inconsistencies in the slices, the dish might not turn out right.

        1. re: MMRuth

          Absolutely, i have had many gratins fail specifically because of inconsistency of potato size and the uneven cooking times that result

      2. A never- fail for me is the one from SF Chronicle cookbook, using dried porcini -- fabulous every time. Will post if it sounds good and you don't have the cookbook or can't find it online.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Sarah

          Please post this. I'd love to try it.

          1. re: Nyleve

            Couldn't find it online, so I'm paraphrasing:

            Potato and Wild Mushroom Gratin
            Place 3 lb peeled and thinly sliced potatoes (I used Yukons) in large container and pour in cold water to cover. Let sit for 30 mins. Drain and pat dry.
            Preheat oven to 350.
            3-4 Tb butter, cut into bits
            1/4 oz dried cepes or porcini, broken into tiny pieces
            10 shallots, chopped
            3 clove garlic, chopped
            s&p
            1 c whipping cream
            Butter a gratin dish, layer in 1/2 the potatoes, dried mushrooms, shallots, garlic, s&p, and butter; repeat, ending w/ the last bits of butter on top. Pour cream over.
            Place gratin in oven and bake for about an hour, or until golden brown on top and tender when pierced w/sharp knife. Serves 4.
            Sooo good, enjoy!

            ed. to make sense

          2. re: Sarah

            What's the name of the Chron cookbook please?

            1. re: c oliver

              it's "The San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook" ;)

              http://www.amazon.com/San-Francisco-C...

              there's a Volume II as well.

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                Thanks. Is it a compilation of columns? I have the Secrets of Success book which I've enjoyed alot.

                1. re: c oliver

                  no idea - i stumbled across the Amazon listing when i was trying to Google the gratin recipe. unfortunately it's on one of the pages that's NOT part of the free Google Books preview :)

          3. Scalloped potatoes don't have to be difficult (what did go wrong with yours?). Slice 1/4 in and lay slightly overlapped in a baking dish. Sprinkle any cheese and add another layer of potatoes. Continue until you've made enough (that's scientific cooking term) and finish with cheese on top. Add milk (I've even used low fat) or cream until just over half way up the potatoes. Cover and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake until browned and the potatoes are tender.

            You can add all kinds of other things to this including raw or carmelized onions, leeks, peas edename, tomatoes or other vegetables, meats, and fish.

            1 Reply
            1. re: alwayscooking

              That pretty much is the only way I make mine. I love some onions, leeks are great. I love to layer potatoes, criminis and potatoes, gruyere is great and I use what cream, heavy or not to regular milk. The start in the potatoes usually thickens it just fine. One note ... if I do use tomatoes because of some extra moisture, I do not use as much milk or use a bit of cornstarch just to thicken a slight amount. One hint ... don't add cold milk, I love to add mine slightly heated or just room temp. I sometimes just put it in the micro on medium for 30 seconds.

              And I do change cheese, parm, fontina, some great herbs as listed below. Depends what I am having with it.

            2. i love this NY Times recipe. it's always a hit, it's easy, and it's relatively low in fat...

              http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/22/hea...

              a couple of notes:
              - you can sub Swiss, Emmentaler, or a combo of Fontina & Parm for the Gruyère
              - if you don't like cumin, substitute a teaspoon of minced fresh thyme or rosemary and some freshly grated nutmeg.